Club Focus – Newcastle United – Enrique future in doubt

The future of left-back Jose Enrique remains in doubt with the player nearing the end of his current Newcastle United deal. The Spaniard’s contract expires at the end of next season but many pundits expect the defender to leave in the summer transfer window. Enrique, who has enjoyed another fine season with the Magpies and is currently rated as one of the top left-backs playing in the Premier League, has already been strongly linked with a move to Liverpool, which would not go down well with the Newcastle fans if it becomes a reality. In a recent interview with the BBC Enrique said: “We haven’t spoken about contracts yet – I don’t want to say more about that.

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Alan Pardew will be hoping to hold talks with Enrique and his representatives in the summer in an attempt to keep one of his key players on Tyneside. Although the 25-year-old has not been quite at his best in recent games he remains one of the first names on Pardew’s team sheet. Enrique also said in his interview: “If I have to continue here [at Newcastle], I’m happy. If I have to go to another club, I’m happy in England. If I have to go to another league, I’m happy.” It would appear the Spaniard is at present unwilling to commit himself to the club and would be interested in a move away if the deal is right.

Alan Smith has returned to training following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury. The club’s vice-captain picked up his injury in January’s Tyne-Wear derby and has not featured since then but although he is now back in training the player’s agent believes that Smith will not play for the first team again this campaign. With only three games of the season remaining time is running out for the likes of Smith and Hatem Ben Arfa to return to the fold – Smith has made just 13 appearances all season and there is some doubt over how long he will remain a Newcastle player. Despite being a senior figure off-the-field his high wages cannot be vindicated if he continues to be a bit part player under Pardew.

After the 3-0 defeat to Liverpool Pardew claimed that the loss of Ben Arfa had hit his side harder than the loss of England international Andy Carroll. The absence of the pair has hit Newcastle hard over the past few weeks with an absence of quality in attack becoming a major problem for the manager, yet this cannot be rectified until the summer when some rebuilding will have to take place. Ben Arfa still remains something of an unknown quantity as he made few appearances for the Magpies before suffering a double leg break. However, if he can return from his injury the same player as he was before then he offers a very different threat to the aerial prowess that Carroll used to pose.

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