Conor Bradley playing in an advanced role for Northern Ireland is a win-win

  • Conor Bradley has quickly become the best player for Northern Ireland and they are maximizing his impact
  • The 20-year old playing further upfield for his country will only help him grow his game for Liverpool
  • Northern Ireland boss believes Bradley could be a No. 8 in the future
Romania v Northern Ireland - International Friendly
Romania v Northern Ireland - International Friendly / Vasile Mihai-Antonio/GettyImages

There might be something about playing right-back for Liverpool that just encourages players to move forward whenever they can.

We are all fully aware of the magic that Trent Alexander-Arnold has produced over the years from that spot and it seems like now, he is finally inching his way to a more permanent advanced role. The irony, his "replacement" at right-back, the young Conor Bradley, is already showing signs that he could make that same move forward one day.

This past season when Trent was out injured, the young Northern Irishman came right into the first XI and did not miss a beat.

He is a tenacious presser when off the ball and this dogged determination helped him seemingly find a groove at the highest level.

Bradley possesses similar qualities to TAA

Liverpool relies on a lot of their attacking moves stemming from an Alexander-Arnold sequence of passes, crosses or vision. When Bradley stood in for the England No. 8, he maintained this level of expectation.

He loves to get forward and join in on the attack at any and all possibility. He can interchange between right-back, wing-back, right midfielder to even right wing which he did a bit of during the League Cup final.

His attacking instincts are there just like TAA as he is always moving into the open spaces in the attacking areas when it calls for it.

His goal against Chelsea showcased his work rate, tactical awareness and class finishing ability.

These are all characteristics that make him a seamless transition from Alexander-Arnold to Bradley. His youthful energy also allows him to track back and fill the space he left in his forward ventures.

Northern Ireland setup already pushing him higher

Following his hugely impressive form at club level, it was no shock he began getting call-ups to the Northern Ireland national team.

Now, this is where things get really interesting if you're a Bradley fan or even a Liverpool fan.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has been utilizing the 20-year old in a more advanced role to amplify his attacking talents.

The Northern Irish typically run a 5-4-1 formation and in those instances, Bradley has been deployed as a right-midfielder just ahead of the wingback. O'Neill gives Bradley the freedom to pick up the ball in many dangerous areas on the pitch.

He scored the winning goal against Scotland back in March from this position before putting up a valiant effort in the defeat to Spain,

Conor Bradley
Scotland v Northern Ireland - International Friendly / Stu Forster/GettyImages

Most recently, a few days ago Bradley bagged himself a brace against Andorra as he was clearly the best player on the pitch. He again did his damage from the RM spot in the lineup. Northern Ireland ran a 3-4-2-1 on this day with Bradley ahead of the back three.

However, just like TAA, he found himself floating centrally as well to get on the ball and dictate proceedings from there.

Overall, in the win over Andorra he won 4 ground duels, put in 4 crosses, completed 40 passes (1 key) and put 3 shots on target, two of which were goals.

O'Neill raved about his budding star following the victory.

""We've got a really special young player who can only continue that way," he continued; "Conor has demonstrated the ability and the versatility to play pretty much anywhere down the right side but the damage he did [against Andorra] is when he arrived in central areas. As you can see, when he gets in the box the timing of his runs and his finishing is great. I think he could probably play as an eight. We had discussed that.""

Michael O'Neill

How could this benefit Liverpool?

This all goes without saying that I do not expect Arne Slot to suddenly drop Bradley into a crucial attacking role within the side next week.

He will probably still be a right-back or an inverted right-back when club play resumes. However, this can only benefit the Reds going forward.

Bradley getting so much experience around the pitch at international level should continue rounding out his all-around game that will surely be of important use to Liverpool going forward. The Reds and Northern Ireland have a budding superstar on their hands.

Slot is a big fan of players with versatility and Bradley already has that in spades at such a young age. The sky really is the limit for him.