JOSE Enrique’s future at St James’s Park might be shrouded in doubt, but Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has insisted the defender’s commitment to the cause between now and the end of the campaign isn’t in question.
Pardew this week denied there was a deal in place for Enrique, pictured, to join Liverpool in the summer.
However, Kenny Dalglish’s interest in taking him to Anfield – and speculation linking AC Milan with a move for the Spaniard – has heightened fears that Enrique’s mind is made up on a move away from Tyneside.
For his part, Pardew’s still hopeful of persuading the 25-year-old to sign a new contract on Tyneside once the club has secured its Premier League status.
In the meantime, Pardew has every confidence that Enrique, like midfielder Joey Barton, who has put contract talks on hold until the summer, will put uncertainty surrounding his future to the back of his mind.
Asked about Enrique’s focus, Pardew said: “The lads’ attitude is great, but that’s what you’d expect from top-class professionals.
“It’s like this argument that they get paid too much money now, footballers, and that they don’t care.
“But put a ball in front of a player and he wants to win it regardless of how much he’s earning, or what his contract situation is.
“We’ve got committed players here, there’s a great team spirit, and we want to see it home now. We want to finish strongly, and I think we can.”
Enrique, a hugely influential player over the past two seasons, told a Spanish newspaper in February he was keen to play in the Champions League, and said he was “flattered” by the interest in him.
However, Enrique in his fourth season at St James’s Park, later said the quotes were taken “out of context”.
The former Villarreal player is understood to have been frustrated by the club’s January transfer business, but the left-back, never willing to accept defeat on the pitch, hasn’t let this affect his Premier League performances.
Enrique will faces one of his toughest tests of the campaign when Manchester United visit St James’s Park on Tuesday night.