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Monday 22 Jan 2024
Conor Bradley makes Premier League debut for Liverpool | NI Player Watch

Northern Ireland full-back Conor Bradley made his Premier League debut for Liverpool at the weekend as Jurgen Klopp’s side opened up a five-point lead at the top of the table following a hard-fought 4-0 victory at Bournemouth. 

To cap a memorable day for the 20-year-old he also provided an assist for Liverpool’s third goal - becoming the first player from Northern Ireland to achieve such a feat for the club since Sammy Smyth in April 1954!

Speaking about his debut to Sky Sports after the game, Bradley pointed out: “It was a great team performance. It’s a difficult place to come so to get a 4-0 win on my debut and a clean sheet is great, but the three points is obviously the most important thing.

“I've been wanting to do this since about five years old. I’ve been waiting for my Premier League debut for a while so I’m really proud.”

Reds boss Klopp was also impressed by the youngster’s performance against the Cherries. “Top player. Good aggression really in the game,” he told the BBC.

“He’s such a good footballer. He didn’t show it all the time today but he is such a good footballer and his attitude is outstanding. He has speed, he is aggressive, all the things you need in that position.” 

Two more graduates from the Irish FA JD Academy, Nottingham Forest’s Jamie McDonnell and West Ham United’s highly rated Callum Marshall, were also included in their respective clubs’ Premier League squads for the first time, though both failed to make their top flight debuts.   

On the goalscoring front, Jordan Thompson found the net for the second time this season, though it was merely a consolation as Stoke City fell to a 2-1 home defeat to fellow strugglers Birmingham City.

Also in the Championship, Jamal Lewis was back in action after his four-game injury lay-off when he came on as a second half substitute for Watford in their draw at Bristol City.  

Defender Paddy McNair also returned to Middlesbrough’s squad following his seven-week absence with a back complaint, although he remained on the substitutes' bench for the 1-1 home draw with Rotherham United.

Paul Smyth was named in QPR’s team to face Millwall at Loftus Road on Saturday, however the winger dropped out of the team after picking up a thigh strain in the pre-match warm-up. 

There were, however, starts for Sunderland pair Trai Hume and Daniel Ballard, Conor Hazard (Plymouth Argyle), Brodie Spencer (Huddersfield Town) and Preston North End midfielder Ali McCann.   

In the Scottish Cup, Kyle Vassell scored for Kilmarnock after just 20 seconds as they progressed to the fifth round of the competition following a 2-0 victory over fellow Premiership outfit Dundee who were without the injured Trevor Carson. 

Elsewhere in the competition, former Linfield player Liam McStravick was part of the Airdrie team that provided the shock of the round by defeating 2021 Scottish Cup winners St Johnstone 1-0 at the Excelsior Stadium. 

Winger Ross McCausland chalked up an assist for Rangers who stormed through to the next round after a thumping 4-1 win at League Two Dumbarton who named under-19 international defender Gallagher Lennon in their squad for the first time. 

Northern Ireland internationals Caragh Hamilton and Sarah McFadden went head to head as Lewes and Durham played out a 1-1 draw in the Women’s Championship and Rebecca McKenna was in the Charlton Athletic side that went top of the table after beating Blackburn Rovers 3-2 at home. 

Finally, Brenna McPartlan took her goal tally for the season to nine with a brace in Burnley’s 6-0 Lancashire Senior Cup semi-final win over AFC Fylde.