'Incredible' Conor Bradley backed to break into Liverpool first team after injury

Conor Bradley's development into a Liverpool first team regular is only a matter of time, the youngster's Northern Ireland teammate Dion Charles has claimed.

The 20-year-old right back impressed on loan at Bolton last season and had been tipped for a breakthrough season under Jurgen Klopp in 2023/24, but a back injury has stopped him making his Reds debut yet.

While Bradley has only been able to watch on as other academy graduates such as Jarell Quansah, Ben Doak and Luke Chambers have taken their chances at Liverpool this season, the young full back will make his mark eventually, international teammate Charles insists.

"Conor is incredible," said 28-year-old Charles, who played alongside Bradley at Bolton in League One last season. "He can go as far as he wants."

"That kid has everything, he's intelligent, such a good player.

"The biggest thing about his mentality is he wants to learn, he wants to get better, so when he's back fit it will be interesting to see not if, but when, he gets in the Liverpool team."

While Bradley – who was named Bolton's Player of the Year 2022/23 – could hardly face a bigger barrier to game time, playing in the same position as Trent Alexander-Arnold, Charles believes the youngster's mentality means he'll use the opportunity to learn and improve.

He continued: "The type of character Conor is, he'll be with him [Alexander-Arnold] every single day, brushing shoulders with them, so it's only going to make him better for the future.

"When Conor first came to Bolton he hadn't played much senior football and he played like a 30-year-old. He plays like someone so experienced - Conor is incredible."

Bradley had been expected to become Alexander-Arnold's backup option this season and could've expected to earn minutes in the Europa League and domestic cups. However, a stress fracture in his back suffered during the summer has meant he hasn't featured for club or country since pre-season.

The 13-cap Northern Ireland star was pencilled in for a return to fitness by November, but was left out of Michael O'Neill's squad to face Finland and Denmark this month and has yet to be reintegrated into action for Liverpool.

Last month, Klopp revealed the Reds were being cautious with the youngster's recovery.

The manager said: “Conor is on the way back with running, but in that age group and with these kinds of injuries you tend to give them three weeks more than not enough because it has to do with the growing process of the body, stuff like this."

Charles added that Bradley's absence is being felt at international level.

"Conor has been a big miss, he would be a big miss for any team," he said. "The type of player he is, especially when he was at Bolton, when Conor is on the ball you feel like he is going to do something and it's always great to have a player like that around us."

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