O'Neill not surprised by Bradley displays

O'Neill not surprised by Bradley displays

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill has claimed he is not one bit surprised by the displays of Conor Bradley in a Liverpool shirt.

Bradley has come to the fore for Liverpool this year after Trent Alexander-Arnold's injury. The 20-year-old scored a goal against Chelsea and has been excellent for Jurgen Klopp's side since making his full debut.

Bradley has also won 13 caps since making his senior Northern Ireland debut in May 2021. O'Neill believes that Bradley's form has improved since his debut, even after he suffered a big injury during their qualification campaign.

“Conor was a big loss to us in the qualification campaign,” O’Neill told the PA news agency. “But physically, he’s come back even stronger than he was prior to the injury.

"Athletically, he’s demonstrated that in games—he’s played some extremely intense, massive games for Liverpool, and he’s excelled in those games. He’s not just held his own, but in most of those games, people have come away talking about his level of performance.

“That’s something, going forward, we expect and hope he can bring to the international stage.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 10: Conor Bradley of Liverpool (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)

He also claimed that his mentality was a big reason for his excellent performances.

“The biggest thing for me is Conor’s mentality—to be able to play in those games at such a crucial stage of the season,” he added.

There are obviously going to be ups and downs in Bradley's career, like every young footballer, but O'Neill expects the humble Bradley to handle the rollercoaster of professional football because of who he is.

“He’s a very humble lad; he’s not one to get carried away. He takes it in his stride. He's already experienced some of the ups and downs of football, and it’s great to see him play at this level. He’s going to be a very important player for us going forward…

“If you know Conor, his background and his upbringing, how he’s handled it is exactly what I would expect. He’s not one that courts the spotlight; he’s not one I imagine does very much on social media.

“His focus is on his football and his performances. Away from the pitch, he prefers a quiet life, so he’s got all the traits you need to be a top player in the modern era.”

Liverpool take on United this weekend at 3.30.