Conor Bradley aims to bounce back with Northern Ireland – and at Liverpool FC

Conor Bradley aims to bounce back with Northern Ireland – and at Liverpool FC

BOUNCING back was the mantra repeated by Conor Bradley after Northern Ireland’s devastating defeat by Denmark – and going back is also on his mind at club level.

The Aghyaran lad will leave his teens next month and also return to Liverpool FC after a successful loan season with Bolton Wanderers.

Going forward is more Conor Bradley’s thing, but he hopes there’s an opportunity for him at right-back with the Anfield Reds, for at least two reasons. First, fellow teenager Calvin Ramsay will himself go out on loan this season, to Preston North End.

Then there’s the positional transformation of Trent Alexander-Arnold. The regular Liverpool right-back adapted to a hybrid role involving midfield late last season and showed his ability in an advanced position for England on Friday night – including scoring a great goal against Malta.

Aghyaran lad Conor Bradley will be back in Liverpool’s colours for the forthcoming season.


Jurgen Klopp obviously wants to see what Bradley can do back at Liverpool – and the player himself is keen to get a chance of any kind on the Reds’ right flank:

“Yeah, obviously it’s down to the gaffer, whatever he decides. Trent is a special talent, he’s one of a kind, he’s a brilliant footballer. We’ll just have to wait and see, see how I do in pre-season, and then we go from there.

“I go back, do pre-season with Liverpool, which I’m really looking forward to. Go back there, see what happens. We haven’t spoken about what exactly is going to happen but obviously it’s a big one for me so I’m looking forward to it.”

First, though, Bradley is keen to record a Euro 2024 qualifier win at home Kazakhstan on Monday night after a VAR call dramatically denied Northern Ireland what would have been a precious, and superb point, deep into injury time in the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on Friday night.

Another teenager, Callum Marshall had brilliantly hooked the ball into the net behind which the Green and White Army were assembled, leading to scenes of delirium – only for the VAR to rule the ‘goal’ out because skipper Jonny Evans was marginally offside when Jordan Thompson took the initial free kick.

Bradley hailed the striker’s instinct shown by Marshall, a quality NI desperately need, saying: “I thought Callum was brilliant when he came on – all the subs were superb.

“It was a brilliant finish, just instinctive. I was gutted for him – first game, gets his first goal, then that happens. It’s a sickener, but hopefully we’ll bounce back on Monday.

“It’s obviously disappointing. We worked so hard to get a result and unfortunately we didn’t get it. I haven’t seen it back but it didn’t look offside in real time. I can’t really comment on it but it’s disappointing.”

Having spent the season in the English Championship, he hasn’t had VAR used often in his playing career, but he knew enough to be bewildered by the length of time it took to rule the goal out:

“If it’s taking five minutes it’s not clear and obvious, is it? I was thinking ‘It’s gotta stand’ but obviously they called it offside, which was disappointing.

“I have had a little bit of experience [of VAR], but it’s never really been used like that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before, five minutes – that was crazy.

“But, here, we go again on Monday. We move on to Monday and hopefully we can get a better result.”

The defeat was doubly disappointing because the decisive goal came early in the second half after an excellent, disciplined display before the break from the visitors.

What’s worse Denmark attacker Jonas Wind pounced to score after centre half Ciaron Brown – who otherwise had an outstanding game – saw a cross late and failed to clear it properly.

“Yeah, it’s disappointing, obviously,” said Bradley. “I don’t know how it happened, I think he just didn’t see the ball and it bounced off him. Those fine margins can be the difference between qualifying and not. I thought Ciaron was brilliant, but we’ll try to bounce back on Monday.”

Northern Ireland captain Jonny Evans speaks about the young players in the squad


The mood in the away dressing room in Copenhagen was understandably despondent, but Bradley insisted there were positive feelings too:

“Michael [O’Neill] spoke to us straight after the game and said he was proud of us. We’re all proud of each other, we worked really hard, put in a great performance.

“We’ve done the tactics superbly so we’re all proud of ourselves but we just need to pick ourselves back up again now and go at it again on Monday night.”

Indeed, he’s confident that NI can return to winning ways with the support of their fans in Windsor Park against Kazakhstan:

“Yeah, definitely. I though the fans [in Parken] were incredible – always are, every away game and home game, a credit to themselves.

“We’re all looking forward to Monday, we know we’ll have the full support of them. It’s a massive game for us. Nothing’s done yet, obviously, so we’re really looking forward to it.”

Video Conor Bradley – Bolton Loan