The Dilemma of Northern Ireland’s Young Right-Backs
As the football world continues to be amazed by Scotland’s conundrum with two top left-backs in Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney, could Northern Ireland soon face a similar predicament? The rise of Conor Bradley from Liverpool and Trai Hume from Sunderland has been nothing short of meteoric. These two natural right-backs have shown great potential over the last few years – winning caps for their country, excelling on loan deals, and performing consistently well at higher levels.
Could Michael O’Neill find space for both?
A former Northern Ireland international Chris Brunt thinks so. He believes that boss Michael O’Neill will want to get these young players into his team as they continue to develop their skills on the pitch. “Michael always looked at ways to get players who are playing regularly at higher levels into his team,” said Brunt.
Both Bradley and Hume offer versatility that could merit them places in the starting lineup for Northern Ireland. Bradley showed promise since making his debut for Liverpool this year while also impressing during a loan spell with Bolton Wanderers where he contributed eight goals and seven assists as they won EFL Trophy and reached playoffs. On the other hand, Hume is another exciting prospect who made an impressive jump when signing up with Sunderland earlier this year.
Could Conor move up front?
If Michael wants to play a back five or three systems then it means slotting Trai in as a third center-half position while Conor plays wing-back – which could be an option according to Chris Brunt. However, if we see Conor playing for Bolton and the goals he scores, it could be possible to push him higher up the pitch as a wide right player. Conor has all the attributes required to play an attacking game.
As Northern Ireland continues their journey towards future tournaments, they have exciting prospects in Bradley and Hume who offer versatility and skills that can help take them further. It remains to be seen how Michael O’Neill will manage these young players, but one thing is certain – he won’t want to miss out on having two promising right-backs in his squad.