Enrique signals desire to leave Newcastle

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The Independent Football

Newcastle full-back Jose Enrique admits he will have to consider any offers which come his way after enduring the longest year of his life.

The 23-year-old Spaniard, who has three years remaining on his contract, expects to resume his career in England in the Coca-Cola Championship following the Magpies' relegation, but will look at his options.

He told Spanish Sports daily Marca: "No-one likes to play in the Championship, but I'm only thinking about fulfilling my contract.

"The team has a great budget and I am sure that if they do things well from the beginning, we can create a team of the level of Aston Villa.

"I like the city and I am very happy in England, but that doesn't rule out that I will study any offer that could arrive.

"Today, I see myself playing next season at Newcastle.

"At the moment, I'm focused on my holidays. It was a bad time for me and I need to relax. It's been the longest year of my life."

Enrique, the club's only specialist left-back, was used as a substitute in the final-day defeat at Villa which saw them slip out of the Barclays Premier League, after finally recovering from a hamstring problem which had kept him out of the previous three games.

The defender, a £6.5million signing from Villarreal in August 2007, has endured a difficult time at St James' Park since then manager Sam Allardyce invested heavily in his potential.

However, nothing he had experienced before had prepared him for the misery of the defeat at Villa and its wider implications.

He said: "I was filled with an immense desire to cry. Something like this has never happened to me, and I couldn't believe it.

"I went home that day and I couldn't take in what had happened to us.

"I don't understand how a team like Newcastle and with top-level players that they can count on could have been relegated.

"I'm very down. The truth is that we have realised we could go down for a while. We saw that things weren't working.

"It's very hard above all for the fans, of which 52,000 fill the stadium every match and don't stop cheering at any point.

"On a personal level, it's obvious that relegation is something very negative for me."

The Magpies are currently deep in discussion with Alan Shearer, who took charge for the final eight games of a demoralising campaign, and hoping he will accept the challenge of taking the job on a permanent basis.

Whoever does eventually take over will have to drastically re-shape a weak, but expensive squad in an attempt to return to the top flight at the first attempt.

That is certain to mean high-profile departures, but Enrique is confident Shearer is the right man for the job.

He said: "We have had four coaches this season, and there have been times when we haven't even had a coach.

"Things have been bad since the first moment, but I hope everything will change for the best.

"I believe that with Alan Shearer on the bench, this change is possible.

"Since September, we could already see that it was going to be an uphill struggle for us.

"There were many big names in the dressing room, but something wasn't working. There were many bad things from the beginning.

"We only won seven games the whole season and that, for a club like Newcastle, is very bad.

"If they leave Shearer in place, things will change for the better. He is a coach that can do something great for Newcastle, and they have to give him time.

"I think that if they let him work on a long-term project, he can do something very good for this team."