Forward-thinking Conor Bradley welcomes Spanish lesson in Majorca

Photo shows Northern Ireland’s Conor Bradley
-Credit: (Image: William Cherry/Presseye)


Liverpool star Conor Bradley believes Northern Ireland will be better equipped to deal with world class opposition after facing the class of Spain.

Michael O'Neill's side crashed to a heavy 5-1 defeat in Majorca on Saturday night, a chastening experience that proved a steep learning curve for the young visitors.

There were some shots of encouragement, however, including Daniel Ballard's early goal which set the tone for the early stages of the game.

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But as Spain generally do, they showed their class to romp to a convincing victory ahead of their Euro finals assault.

“We had a great start to the game,” Bradley said. “I thought we got out of the blocks fast and then obviously their class showed.

“They are a world-class team and they will try and go and win the Euros and for us the game was a big learning curve. Hopefully we can take that into the World Cup qualifying campaign next year and the Nations League.

“We didn’t deserve to concede as many goals as we did but it is something to learn from and something for us to improve on. The first 10 minutes we were sort of all over them and taking the ball off them and causing problems but their class showed and they were so good on the ball.”

Bradley is used to facing elite opposition in the Premier League following his breakthrough season at Liverpool, but for others in Northern Ireland's squad it was a steep learning curve against Spain.

But he believes the experience gained will prove invaluable as Northern Ireland look ahead to the next World Cup qualifiers when more top-ranked sides will lie in wait.

“We knew before the game we weren’t going to have much of the ball,” Bradley said.

“I play against players like that most weeks and I’m quite used to it but some of the lads are playing in the Championship and League One and it is difficult for everybody and the way they counter-press you it is hard to break that press.

“We will play a team like that in the World Cup qualifiers and hopefully we will be ready for it and hopefully when that time comes more of our players will be playing in the Premier League and Championship and at a higher level.”

Up next for Northern Ireland is a friendly against Andorra on Tuesday night in Murcia. Bradley says it is a chance to get back to winning ways and start building momentum again.

“Hopefully we will get back to winning ways against Andorra and definitely our heads will stay up and hopefully we can continue on an upward trajectory,” he said.

“We should have more of the ball against Andorra and show what we are all about. It is going to be a different task altogether and we are looking forward to it.”

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