Enrique Fitness Key to Toon Campaign
Fan`s Player of the Year, Jose Enrique, was a stand out performer in the Toon`s Championship winning term. With a hard hitting tackle and a cool composure on the ball not seen since the days of Nobby Solano, the man known as El Toro was a vital player in the team`s success. But this season he faces the toughest test of his career…
At 24 years of age, the former Spanish U21 international knows he is reaching that make-or-break stage of his career when he needs to prove himself at the top level and forge a reputaion and try to force his way into his international manager`s plans. The Valencia born man feels fit for the season ahead and feels that he is capable of playing up to 60 games this season if Newcastle require him to.
That`s great news, but we`ve heard that empty promise before, especially from former players Kieron Dyer and Michael Owen, and there are question marks over Jose`s fitness as past injury problems have seen him miss month-long spells each season. With no deputy to cover his absence, staying 100% fit for a full season will be vital to Newcastle`s attempt to remain in the top flight - especially with an end of season run in which features games against Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea.
Magpies boss Hughton has gone on record with his desire to strenghten the defence and Patrick van Aarnolt, who spent a month on loan with the lads last season, has been widely tipped to make a move to the club as cover, but if Ancelotti wants van Aarnholt to play the regular football that Newcastle may not be able to offer the youngster, they will have serious problems.
Hugton has experimented before with Danny Simpson in that position but he is currently injured - and first choice fullback on the other flank. Hungarian defender Tamas Kadar has also stood in, but his preferred position is centre half. Youngster Shane Ferguson played well there against Norwich and Jonas Gutierrez started as a full-back in Argentina`s opening World Cup group games, but both are wingers and would be playing out of their favoured position.
It remains to be seen whether we will have another left back come the start of the season, but if Jose can keep fit we won`t need one. I`m predicting big things for the £6.5 million man this season and am confident he will be one of the most important players for the Toon in our Premiership campaign. Who knows, with Spain`s only left back at the World Cup, Joan Capdevilla, on the verge of international retirement, this season could be the springboard that sees Enrique go on to achieve that international recognition he deserves.