Keegan hails improving Enrique
Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan has praised Jose Enrique and backed him to improve further next season.
By Lewis Rutledge
Last Updated: 04/04/08 10:46pm
Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan has praised young defender Jose Enrique and backed him to improve further next season.
The 22-year-old Spaniard joined The Magpies for £6.5million from Villarreal last summer but was used sparingly by former manager Sam Allardyce.
However, Enrique has played his part in a defence which has conceded two goals in the last three games.
Keegan believes the left-back is starting to settle into the English game but has outlined some of the difficulties he has faced in his first season at St James' Park.
"Jose is improving with every game. You have got to remember, he has to learn the language - we have got a back four where only Steven Taylor speaks English," said Keegan.
"Sometimes in front of him, Jose has had Charles N'Zogbia or Damien Duff, and he cannot understand Damien either.
"It has taken him a little while to adapt. We have had a couple of meetings with his brother about what he has to do to improve.
"His brother speaks good English, and when Jose was out of the team, he was more or less asking, 'What does he need to do to get back into the team?'
"Whatever you are seeing now, it will be another 50 per cent once he has got a pre-season with us under his belt and has not been interrupted like he was last year.
"Apparently, he did not have a full pre-season, and that is vitally important for players.
"Players who miss any part of pre-season usually suffer somewhere in a season, and Jose, like all of them, had probably had a little problem with that."
Keegan accepts that Enrique still has much to learn, but feels the future is definitely bright for the youngster.
"His focus is better. There is still improvement in him, but he has got a lot of qualities," Keegan added.
"He has a lovely left foot and he has a maturity about him at times that belies his age. He is still a very young player."