Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Enrique's Recovery Will Lift Magpies; Left-Sided Specialist Due Back

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Enrique's Recovery Will Lift Magpies; Left-Sided Specialist Due Back

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

JOS[ETH] Enrque's return to Newcastle United's line-up will be welcomed even more warmly by Jon[sz]s Gutirrez than by the club's supporters tomorrow.

Enrque has missed the last seven games with a hamstring injury, but is expected to face Barnsley at St James' Park tomorrow. After a difficult start, the 24-year-old has grown in stature since joining Newcastle United from Villareal in 2007. The left-back has been perhaps Newcastle's best performer this season and it speaks volumes for Patrick van Aanholt - signed on loan from Chelsea as cover - that Enrque's absence was not more keenly felt.

But as well as making a vital contribution to the defensive strength on which Newcastle's impressive title push has been based, manager Chris Hughton has also noted the positive effect Enrque has had on fellow Spanish speaker Gutirrez this season.

"He has forged a very good relationship with Jon[sz]s," said Hughton, a former leftback with Tottenham Hotspur and the Republic of Ireland. "You can see it on the pitch.

"There is a lot of energy down that flank. Enrque has the ability to get forward and Jon[sz]s has the ability to cover for him when he does.

"They have forged a good understanding."

Enrque started 28 of United's first 31 games this season and until pulling his hamstring against Crystal Palace, October's visit of Bristol City was the only Championship match he had sat out.

Having coached under Kevin Keegan, Joe Kinnear and Alan Shearer in addition to three spells as caretaker manager, Hughton has witnessed first-hand the development in Enrque's game.

Many a foreign player has been harshly judged too soon after a poor start in the somewhat idiosyncratic English leagues, and his manager believes coming to terms with its demands has allowed Enrque to blossom.

"It's his third season and he's getting used to the pace of the game," Hughton stressed.

"He's had a fantastic season and had played almost every game until his recent injury. …

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