Last last week, manager Brendan Rodgers let Jose Enrique know that if he couldn't step up his game he'd likely be out the door in January along with the similarly under-performing Stewart Downing. In Enrique's case, though, that the player is recovering from a knee injury provides something of an excuse for the left back being unable to show his new manager whether or not he's capable of recapturing the form he was on when he first arrived at Liverpool in the summer of 2011.
Still, with the right-footed Glen Johnson preferred at left back in recent weeks—even following the injury of Martin Kelly that has now meant two starts in a row for 19-year-old Andre Wisdom on the right while keeping the England international on his wrong side—the reality is that, niggling injuries or not, Rodgers will need to see more from Enrique in the next few months.
However, despite the potential for tension between the Spanish left back and his manager, Enrique wouldn't disagree with the idea that Rodgers hasn't yet seen his best. Moreover, even after his manager's strong words the defender still backs Rodgers as the right man for the job and intends to fight for his place in the side once his knee has fully healed.
"I picked up a knee injury in pre-season and I’m still not fully fit," said Enrique of his current situation. "It’s frustrating for me because I wanted to impress the new manager and he hasn’t seen me play properly yet. But I didn’t want to stop playing, so I have been taking tablets and playing with some pain.
"Let me say, though, that I absolutely love our manager. I know how he wants to play and I know that once I am fit I can be a part of his team."
In retrospect, then, it might have been unfair for Rodgers to single out Enrique as one of the veterans who needs to step up his game to avoid being overtaken on the depth chart by the club's promising prospects, but regardless of that it's an encouraging response from the player. Hopefully the upcoming international break will give Enrique the chance to get past any lingering issues and by the end of October fans and the manager will get to see something of the player who arrived at the club last year.