Conor Bradley will approach Northern Ireland’s upcoming Nations League fixtures with more confidence after making an impressive start to his loan spell at Bolton.
The 19-year-old Liverpool prospect has already won eight caps for his country but feels set to kick a level after getting his first taste of regular senior football in Ligue 1.
Playing in a wing-back role, Bradley made an instant impact at the University of Bolton stadium, scoring three goals in 12 appearances in all competitions.
“I feel good this season,” Bradley said. “Obviously it was a step forward for me to play twice a week.
“It’s been difficult at times, but hopefully it’s something that will help me in the long run.
“Definitely I feel more confident. I get a bit of rhythm playing twice a week. That’s mostly the confidence part. I feel good about myself having played most games for Bolton. I just want to start now and put that in a Northern Ireland shirt.
Bradley scored his first Bolton goal in a 5-1 EFL Cup win over Salford, and followed it up with league strikes against Morecambe and Charlton, wins that helped Wanderers move up to fifth of the whiteboard.
“Certainly I put myself more in the box, the timing of runs in the box and obviously finishing those chances, which I always want to improve on,” Bradley said when asked what parts of his game went wrong. developed the fastest. since joining Bolton.
“Also my game management, I’m young, some of the players in England are stronger than me, so I faced that and tried to play around that…
“I hope it helps me with Northern Ireland. (Ian Baraclough) likes to play the same way we do at Bolton with the wingers and he also wants his wingers in the box. So I hope I can add to that.
Bradley made five senior appearances for Liverpool last season, including a substitute appearance for AC Milan in the Champions League, and he remains in regular contact with the club over his progress with Bolton.
“It’s been huge that they’ve stayed in touch and they always want to know how I’m doing and how I’m settling in,” he said. “Liverpool have been great that way and I can’t thank them enough.
“It was the right time to move on loan. I needed to get out there and play as many games as possible.
“It’s a big learning curve for me, but it’s a change I had to make and I can’t wait for the rest of the season.”
As his club career progresses, this week’s task is to help Northern Ireland pull themselves out of the hole they dug themselves with a run of dismal results in June.
Two draws with Cyprus and defeats at home to Greece and away to Kosovo left Baraclough’s side battling relegation from Nations League Group C, having started the campaign talking about promotion.
With Baraclough under pressure from disgruntled sections of the Green and White Army, a home result against Kosovo on Saturday is imperative before Tuesday’s trip to Athens to face a Greek side who top the table with four wins from four.
“We were disappointed in June,” Bradley said. “We felt we could have done better. But we’re still positive and we have some familiar returning faces, so we’re confident we can get two positives out of these games.