New Liverpool defender Jose Enrique is targeting a top four finish in the Premier League this season and hopes his move to Anfield will bring him international recognition.
The Spaniard made his debut against Sunderland on Saturday just over 24 hours after completing a £6m move from Newcastle.
Enrique made a quietly confident start to his Liverpool career but knows he and his new team-mates will have to perform much better if they are to break back into the top four, having missed out for the last two seasons.
"We want to get back into the top four this season and if we could win the Premier League that would be fantastic, but we have to be realistic," he said yesterday. "A lot of teams have spent a lot of money and for me this league is the most competitive one in the world. Seven teams could finish in the top four but we want to be there and we will do everything we can to make that possible.
"In the first half [against Sunderland] we played some unbelievable stuff and we need to do that for 90 minutes. If we can do that we can beat anyone."
The 25-year-old Enrique is seen as the solution in what has been a long-term problem position for Liverpool and is certain to come under more scrutiny than he did at St James' Park. However, he hopes that will work to his advantage as he still harbours ambitions to break into the national side.
"It would be fantastic to get into the Spain squad because for every player it's a dream to play for your country," he told liverpoolfc.tv. "But my first priority is Liverpool and helping us get back into the top four this year."
One of the key factors in Liverpool regaining their Champions League status will be the form of their £35m club record signing Andy Carroll, who arrived at Anfield in January with a thigh problem and was never fully fit for the remainder of the season. But Enrique, who saw Carroll at his best when the pair played together at Newcastle, believes the England striker will come good.
"I watched him play last season and I knew he wasn't fit here," Enrique said. "I don't care if the player is Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, if a player is not fit, he is not fit.
"For us in Newcastle he was brilliant and I am sure he will be brilliant for Liverpool. He is a very good player. When a club like Liverpool pays £35m for Andy I know it is not lucky. It is because they think he is a good player. I am sure he is going to do a lot of things very good for us. He is playing very well in his position and he is going to be an important player this season," Enrique added.
Another player who came under the spotlight at the weekend was youngster Jon Flanagan. With Glen Johnson injured he was selected at right-back ahead of Martin Kelly but had a second half to forget as he lost Sebastian Larsson for Sunderland's equaliser and appeared to suffer a lack of confidence as a result.
The 18-year-old, who only made his first-team debut in March against Manchester City, admits he still has plenty to learn.
"I just want to continue improving," Flanagan told LFC magazine. "There are areas where I need to get better such as going forward and crossing. I need to work on everything. With lads like Glen and Martin, there is plenty of competition in the squad. That's always good to have.
"It means if you do get in the team you have to take the chance. Martin is only a few years older than me," Flanagan pointed out.
"He came in last season and did brilliantly. He showed exactly how to grab an opportunity."Reuse content