Conor Bradley setting his sights high during loan stay with Bolton Wanderers

Conor Bradley in action for Northern Ireland against Greece
Conor Bradley in action for Northern Ireland against Greece

Conor Bradley has set his sights high at Bolton Wanderers this season.

The Liverpool loanee, currently away on international duty with Northern Ireland, believes he can help Ian Evatt’s side secure a spot in the top six during his time at the UniBol.

Sitting fifth after nine games, the Whites have already come up against some of the top names in the division, and wing-back Bradley is excited for what is in store.

"It has been a good start,” he told the Northern Irish press. “We had a tough set of fixtures, so to come through that and sit fifth in the table is really good.

"We have our eye on promotion, either through the play-offs or through automatic promotion.

"We will push it all the way but hopefully there's good things to come."

Bradley has turned heads with his early performances since arriving at Bolton, much to the delight of staff at Liverpool, who had vetted Bolton’s training methods and facilities before deciding to send him out for the season.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp sent a text telling the teenager to “enjoy himself” at Wanderers, and has kept a close eye on how he has been doing down the road.

“We have a group there with all the loanees and they text into it when someone scores or gets an assist, or even when you play well,” he said.

"So, they (Liverpool staff) are always texting in and wishing us all the best for games.

"It has been a really good start and I feel I am learning and developing every day. I am just enjoying playing as many games as I can.

"They have all been great with me and kept in close contact. They have been great with me."

Bradley has experienced an unexpected benefit of playing under Ian Evatt in his first couple of months, that of becoming a regular goal-scorer.

With three under his belt already – a couple of big chances also falling by the wayside – the youngster is showing himself to be much more of an all-rounder than Bolton supporters might have expected.

"I am enjoying the wing-back role,” he said. “That's how the gaffer wants me to play. He wants wing-backs creating and getting into the box, and tucking away some chances when we can.

"So I have been living it so far, and if I can pop up with a couple more goals then it will be even better.

"It will hopefully help me with Northern Ireland, too, if the manager plays with wing-backs. I have played like that all season so it would be good for me.

"Barra (Ian Barraclough) likes to play quite similar to how we do at Bolton with the wing-backs and he wants his wing-backs in the box as well. So hopefully I can add to that."

Northern Ireland have never won a Nations League game and will have to better Cyprus’s results in their last two games against Kosovo and Greece to avoid dropping into the bottom tier of the competition alongside minnows such as San Marino.

Wanderers striker Dion Charles is pushing for a starting spot as Barraclough’s side look to recover from a disappointing set of results over the summer.

Bradley believes he is better equipped to help his country having gained some extra experience in League One.

“Hopefully we can get two positive results from these two games coming up,” he said.

"I feel good this season. It has been a step up for me playing twice a week which can be quite difficult at times. But it can only benefit me in the long-term.

"I feel more confident and I have a bit of rhythm from playing twice a week. But it's mainly the confidence part. I feel good about myself playing games for Bolton.

"Hopefully I can now transfer that to Northern Ireland.

"I am getting in the box a lot more and timing my runs a lot better. And I have also scored a couple of goals which is a positive.

"It is just my game management and being able to deal with different situations. I am young and there are players stronger than me, so it is dealing with things like that."