Conor Bradley will get a chance to break into Liverpool’s first-team squad for next term when he takes part in pre-season, Jurgen Klopp has said.
The 19-year-old has starred on loan at Sky Bet League One club Bolton this year, scoring seven goals and providing six assists in 49 appearances as he helped Wanderers lift the Papa John’s Trophy earlier this month while maintaining their play-off push.
Klopp has been impressed by what he has seen of Bradley, who made five appearances for Liverpool last season before heading out on loan. Another temporary move is possible, but Bradley has the opportunity to force his way into Klopp’s squad.
“We are in constant contact,” Klopp said. “Pep Lijnders created a group with our on-loan players – a WhatsApp group – and we are watching really closely what he is doing. It is great, obviously.
“I am not sure if he will become player of the season (at Bolton) but for sure he is a contender for that, which is absolutely great.
“We knew what we had in our hands when he was here, but for young boys there must be an opportunity to make the next step with playing and that was now a typical win-win situation: it was good for us, good for him and good for the club and I liked it a lot.
“Our plans are, bring him back, go in the pre-season and then enjoy the steps he made, then we will decide together what we are doing from that moment on. The plans are in the moment, bring him back and keep him, but we will see.”
Bradley was also one of Northern Ireland’s stand-out players during the international window last month, and has 12 caps to his name despite his tender age.
“I think it’s a confidence boost when you are invited and playing for your country, of course that is great but it is not that often it happens,” Klopp added.
“I think it gives you a better feeling about yourself if you get picked for your country. I never had that situation so I cannot exactly tell you how it feels, but I am pretty sure it is very special and it is a super-positive moment for him.
“Everybody speaks positively about him. I think one and a half years ago only a few football nerds would have known about him and now everybody knows him. That’s cool and that’s the first step.
“He is our boy, which I like a lot. A super mentality, which is extremely helpful, and all the rest will come – and we are all pretty sure about that. So, that’s it.
“Conor will be our player, but how it is in that age group, we have to see if it makes more sense for him going on loan after pre-season or not. We will decide that then and not now.”