Conor Bradley wants to take the next step with Northern Ireland after impressing on loan at Bolton (Niall Carson/PA)

Liverpool loanee takes “we’ll see” stance on future in standout season

Northern Ireland’s emerging star Conor Bradley is not thinking about his Liverpool future as he focuses on a successful finish to the season on loan at Bolton.

While Northern Ireland suffered frustration on Sunday in a 1-0 Euro 2024 qualifying defeat to Finland, it has been a positive international window for the 19-year-old Bradley, named Man of the Match at Windsor Park after a strong showing in the 2-0 win in San Marino.

“I’m happy with how things are going,” Bradley said.

“I just need to stay grounded, working hard, and keep getting more performances like the last two games.”

The attacking wing-back made five senior appearances for Liverpool last term but has thrived this season on loan at League One Bolton, scoring six goals in 43 appearances in all competitions.

Such have been his performances that Bolton boss Ian Evatt is on record saying Bradley will be a future Liverpool regular, but the teenager is not getting ahead of himself.

“To be fair, I’m just focusing on Bolton at the minute,” he said.

2M2467K Conor Bradley #21 of Bolton Wanderers crosses the ball during the Papa John's Trophy match Bolton Wanderers vs Manchester United U21 at University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton, United Kingdom, 13th December 2022 (Photo by Phil Bryan/News Images)

“Obviously there’s going to be a big end to the season, hopefully we can push into the play-offs and we have the Papa John’s final when I go back. Focus on that now and we’ll see what happens in the future.”

Bradley was Northern Ireland’s brightest spark against Finland, getting the Windsor crowd off their feet with his runs down the right and creating chances for club-mate Dion Charles.

“We’ve played something like 40 games together so if we didn’t have a link-up it would be a bit bad,” Bradley said of their relationship.

“It’s good playing with Dion. We sort of know what each other is going to do now.”

Conor Bradley Northern Ireland

Bradley enjoyed his first opportunity to work with Michael O’Neill since the coach’s return to the Northern Ireland job, even if the week did not end they way they had hoped.

“The ball just wouldn’t go in the back of the net,” he said of Sunday’s game.

“On another day we could have got a draw or even won the game.

“It’s disappointing, but we’ve still got loads of belief. The group’s wide open so hopefully we can just bounce back in June.

“We hope we don’t [look back at a missed opportunity]. We felt that we should have got more than we did, but that’s football, that’s how it goes sometimes.

“We just need to re-group, get back playing with our clubs, and hopefully bounce back in June.”