• Premier League

Enrique vows to fight for his place

ESPN staff
October 2, 2012 « Nadal: 'Fantastic' Murray has got it all | Chartbeat test »

Liverpool defender Jose Enrique has said he is determined to overcome a knee injury and prove that he deserves to stay at the club.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has warned the left-back and winger Stewart Downing that they are fighting for their Anfield futures, after publicly questioning their attitude.

Rodgers has preferred to use Glen Johnson in the left-back position this season, with Enrique struggling to produce the sort of form he showed after he joined Liverpool from Newcastle for £6 million in 2011.

But Enrique, 26, says a mystery knee injury suffered just before the start of the season has held him back.

"I don't know quite what the problem is but I have been playing with a lot of pain," the Spanish defender told the Liverpool Echo. "I had an injection in my knee, so hopefully that will settle it down and allow me to find my form again because it is difficult playing with pain.

"It is something behind my knee, and I have had to be very careful with it. I've been trying to play with it but it is not 100%. I felt it in training before the opening day of the season at West Brom, and since then it has been very bad. Hopefully the injection will sort it out.

"Obviously with a new manager at the club you want to be at your best, but I want to play to help us climb up the table. I want to get back as soon as possible."

Rodgers had questioned whether Enrique and Downing had the drive to succeed at Liverpool, saying: "We will give them everything to help them be better, but if they don't want to show that self-motivation, if you haven't got that desire and hunger to succeed then it can be very difficult for you. It is about hunger and desire."

But Enrique said he was inspired rather than worried by the thought of Downing being reinvented as a left-back and challenging him for a place in the side.

"I think it's good for Stewart because it's another place he can play for," he added. "It's good for the squad, too, if we get injuries. I enjoy the competition for places. I know when I am fit I can play in this team, and I want to play."

Meanwhile, winger Joe Cole stepped up his return from a hamstring injury with a goal for Liverpool's Under-21 side on Monday. Cole, out of action since early August, played 60 minutes as one of three permitted overage outfield players in a 3-0 victory over Fulham Under-21s.

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