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Irish striker wants regular first-team football to ensure his place in Giovanni Trapattoni's squad for Euro 2012 and hopes three-goal haul will convince Roy Hodgson to give him run

West Bromwich Albion’s FA Cup hat-trick hero Simon Cox hopes his performance against Cardiff City will secure him a regular starting place in Roy Hodgson’s side.

The striker has made just 10 appearances for the Baggies this season but has only started two Premier League games, two League Cup ties and the FA Cup win over Cardiff. And with the European Championships on the horizon, the Irish striker has admitted he needs to be playing more often to guarantee his place in Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad.

“The next six months are probably one of the biggest six months of my career so far,” he stated to reporters.

“I said to the gaffer yesterday [Friday] that if I am to guarantee my place on that plane then I do feel I have to be as fit and as sharp as possible, and in as good a form as possible.

“It [the chat with Hodgson] sounded positive.

“Let’s hope what he says is true and I can stay in the team, but that comes from my performances and hopefully I’ve shown what I can do today and it gives him a headache.”

Cox was starting consecutive games for the first time this season and he rewarded Hodgson’s faith in him with an excellent hat-trick to fire the Baggies into the fourth round of the FA Cup, where they will face Norwich, and the striker revealed his delight at a run of games in the side.

“With the injuries we’ve got there could be a run of games for me at the minute,” he added,

“Whether that be up top or out on the left or right, he [Hodgson] said 'if you get the run of games you’ve got to show what you can do'.

“That’s all I’ve ever asked: to get three, four, five games on the bounce and not just to go in one and come out the next one regardless of result.”

Injury to fellow Irish striker Shane Long has given Cox his chance to shine and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands as he notched the fourth hat-trick of his career, his first for Albion.

His opening goal came in the 33rd minute as he met a pinpoint right-wing free kick from Nicky Shorey to head beyond Tom Heaton, and he confirmed his fellow striker Long had been one of the first to congratulate him.

“I saw him [Long] at half-time," he continued.

“He said ‘I couldn’t believe you scored a header’ because I never score headers but that one I thought I’ll get on the end of because obviously I know Shorey’s delivery probably better than everybody else."

Cox’s second goal was something special as he lashed a 25-yard drive off the inside of a post into the back, but he confessed it was his third goal – a tap-in from close range – that gave him most satisfaction.

“I was more happy with the third one, a striker's tap-in,” he said.

“If you look at my record a lot of my goals are in the 18 yard box, those from outside the box are far and few between.

“You get one or two of them per season. I got a similar one last year against Leicester and I’ve showed again I can do that as well as be in the box and be a predator.”

And he revealed his manager had praised him for his hat-trick and stated it was nice to see his hard work on the training ground pay off on the pitch.

"He’s just said ‘well done, you deserved your goals’,” Cox said.

“In training I’ve got to playing upfront and sticking the ball in the net and if you do it in training you’ve got a better chance of doing it on the field.

“I’ve been chomping at the bit to play upfront and hopefully I’ve shown what I can do when given the chance to play up there.”

There has been speculation about Cox’s future at The Hawthorns now the January transfer window has opened, with many reports linking him with a move away to secure regular first-team football, but the striker said the decision was out of his hands but stated he wanted to stay at the club.

“It’s not my choice, I don’t know,” he explained.

“You never know what happens in football.

“As far as I’m concerned I’m getting my head down and doing the work in training, and hopefully when given the chance perform because you never know who is watching.

“I’d love to be [here], if I was here on February 1st then I see myself being here until the end of the season.

“If my performances are good I would deserve to stay in the team.”

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