2MF4J00 Conor Bradley #21 of Bolton Wanderers during the Sky Bet League 1 match Bolton Wanderers vs Forest Green Rovers at University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton, United Kingdom, 24th January 2023 (Photo by Phil Bryan/News Images)

19-year-old returns to Liverpool after playoff heartbreak – “Massive honour”

Conor Bradley will return to Liverpool this summer ahead of pre-season, with the 19-year-old suffering heartbreak in his final game at Bolton.

With 52 games under his belt, along with seven goals and six assists, teenage right-back Bradley was undoubtedly the Reds’ standout loanee this season.

His contribution on the right flank played a key role in Bolton not only winning the Papa John’s Trophy, but also reaching the League One playoffs.

Ian Evatt’s side finished fifth in League One, booking a playoff semi-final against Barnsley which, after a 1-1 draw in the first leg, came to a head on Friday night.

Unfortunately, it ended in a 2-1 aggregate victory for Barnsley, who will now face Sheffield Wednesday in the final at Wembley.

Bradley is already confirmed to be joining the Liverpool first team for pre-season training in July, and the youngster took to Instagram to say goodbye and pay tribute to his loan club.

“Thank you for giving me my first taste of men’s football, it will be something I’m forever grateful for!” he wrote.

“It has been a massive honour to play for Bolton Wanderers and it’s disappointing for it to end the way it did.

“I’ve made friends for life and memories that’ll never be forgotten.

“Thank you to the manager and to all the staff for your hard work everyday and making me not only a better player but a better person, my teammates for welcoming me from day one and being a pleasure to represent the club with.

“And to the fans for taking me in like one of your own. I’ll be forever grateful, your support this season has been unbelievable.

“I’ll always be a wanderer!”

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)

It is fair to say that Bradley surpassed expectations at Bolton, arriving with just five senior appearances to his name with Liverpool and settling in immediately.

The Greater Manchester club had hoped to retain his services for next season, but that is now almost impossible having failed to secure promotion to the Championship.

Whether Bradley will stay as part of Jurgen Klopp‘s squad or head out on another loan – perhaps in the Championship or even lower in the Premier League – remains to be seen.

But his experience at Bolton was clearly invaluable for the 19-year-old, both as a player and as a person.