The Reds defender insists that finishing in the top four remains the club’s primary target, while he is looking forward to welcoming Luis Suarez back into the team after his ban
By David Lynch
When Jose Enrique says “you never know” on two occasions during our brief interview, it conveys a cautious side to the Liverpool full-back’s personality that he rarely shows on the field.
Renowned for his rampaging runs up the wing, the fearless nature of his late flurries into the opposition box, and unrivalled ability to shield the ball in dangerous positions, Enrique is no shrinking violet on the other side of the white line.
But the Spaniard is by no means arrogant, and he is not the type to get carried away in the hype surrounding Liverpool’s 100 per cent start to the season either. Talk of the Reds’ stay at the top being a potentially lengthy one has inevitably followed three wins from three games, but Enrique remains adamant that Champions League qualification is the sole aim – for the moment, at least.
Speaking at the launch of the EA SPORTS FIFA 14 demo, he told Goal: “You never know but we have to be realistic. Our target is to be in the top four, hopefully we can fight for the title, that would be unbelievable.
“But we have to keep our feet on the ground, it’s just the start and we have only played three games. There are still many games and things can change so much, but hopefully they don’t!
“We have never started like this in the three years I have been here. It is important for confidence. We can see now all the work we have been doing with the manager since last year so hopefully we can keep it up.”
The 27-year-old is, perhaps unsurprisingly, similarly reserved about the prospect of ever playing for Spain. Despite his impressive performances at domestic level over a number of years, Enrique has yet to reap the rewards in the shape of a call-up to Vicente del Bosque’s squad.
But the three-times-capped former Under-21 international has not yet given up hope of returning to the national team fold. “I lose a little bit of confidence in that because it’s been so many years,” he added. “I think I at least deserve the chance to see if I can be there or not but at the moment I don’t have the chance.
“My main aim is to be focusing on Liverpool and hopefully we stay at the top but I hope to go to the national team because it is a World Cup this year and that would be fantastic.”
Unusually for a full-back, Enrique has formed an almost telepathic relationship with a colleague stationed much further up the pitch during his time at Anfield. Luis Suarez’s tendency to drift over to the left-hand side of the pitch has allowed the duo to noticeably link up on a number of occasions as part of Brendan Rodgers’ aggressive attacking philosophy.
And Enrique is understandably looking forward to seeing the Uruguayan back in action following the imminent completion of his 10-match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.
When asked what Suarez’s return to the team will bring, the full-back enthused: “Goals!
“We are doing well without him but Luis Suarez is always more than welcome. He is one of our best players if not the best, I think he’s important for us and when he comes back it will be great.”
The former Newcastle defender also discussed the recent arrival of a threat to his previously unquestioned presence in Rodgers’ team – Aly Cissokho. The Frenchman, who has moved to Anfield on a season-long loan from Valencia, is set for a further four weeks on the sidelines as a consequence of a foot injury picked up just minutes into his debut.
However, Enrique knows that once Cissokho is back in action, he will face a difficult task in retaining his starting berth.
“I always have competition in my position wherever I’ve been,” he continued. “Here I’ve had Jack Robinson as well but it’s important to have a good opposition because you know if you don’t do well you have someone behind who can take you out of the team.
“He’s a good guy as well, I’ve been talking with him and he speaks Spanish too. Hopefully we can fight for the position and I can still play.”
Jose Enrique appears in EA SPORTS FIFA 14. Download the FIFA 14 demo version now on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Gold. Xbox Live Silver members can download from September 17!