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The former Newcastle defender has backed his Liverpool team-mate for an immediate return to form, believing that he has the ability to regain his place in Brendan Rodgers' side

Jose Enrique has given his backing to fellow Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel, who has struggled to assert himself this season under manager Brendan Rodgers.

The 28-year-old has recently been linked with a move away from Anfield, having lost his place in the team’s starting line-up to Jamie Carragher after putting in a disappointing performance during the club’s FA Cup fourth-round exit to League One side Oldham.

With Carragher set to retire next month, however, Enrique believes that the door is open for Skrtel to rediscover his form and win back his starting berth.

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The Spaniard told the Daily Mail: "I think we have one of the best centre-backs in the league in Martin Skrtel.

"Like every player he has not had a good season this year, but last season he was player of the season for us.

"For me, when he comes on he will be top-class again for sure."

Enrique’s own career on Merseyside had looked threatened earlier in the season, as team-mates Glen Johnson and Stewart Downing were preferred to him at left-back.

In February, the 27 year-old questioned his manager’s conduct, arguing that Rodgers’ public criticism of him and other team-mates was not the ‘right way’ to motivate them.

In recent games, though, Enrique has - by his own admission - shown an improved level of performance. He added: "This [Rodgers’ criticism], to be honest, woke me up and now I am playing well.

"From the start I tried as hard as I could and sometimes it is good for someone to tell you the bad things you don’t want to hear."

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