Joe Cole is absolutely right - Liverpool have a starlet who can become world class

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The former Anfield midfielder has been singing the praises of full-back Conor Bradley.

It has been an international break that has done no harm whatsoever to the reputation of Conor Bradley. The precocious Liverpool full-back continues to impress as much for Northern Ireland as he does for his club, and is beginning to look increasingly integral to both.

On Friday evening, the 20-year-old put in another stellar display for Michael O'Neil's men in a 1-1 draw with Romania, and came in for notable praise from his manager, who name-checked the defender as a perfect illustration of the energy and vivacity he wants his youthful side to embody. Speaking in the aftermath of the clash, O'Neil said: 'That right side of the pitch is very, very young but what they showed was great quality. What we do have in the team is great running power and Conor epitomises that.'

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Bradley's continued development at senior international level has also coincided with plenty of talk about the man he is trying to usurp at Anfield. Trent Alexander-Arnold may well be absent from England's current training camp due to injury, but nevertheless, talk has swirled around the Liverpool talisman, and more specifically, his exact role in Gareth Southgate's plans.

As the Three Lions struggle with finding a suitable partner for Declan Rice in the centre of midfield, and as fitness issues plague their contingent of right-backs, there are lingering questions over where Alexander-Arnold should be deployed for the national team.

And if Bradley maintains his dizzying trajectory, then that could also be an increasingly intriguing dilemma for Liverpool too. It wasn't so very long ago that the prospect of Alexander-Arnold losing his place in Jurgen Klopp's starting XI would have been unfathomable; it might not much longer before we are saying the same thing about his Northern Irish teammate.

It's a fact that TNT Sports pundit, and former Liverpool midfielder, Joe Cole pointed out during the broadcaster's recent coverage of the Reds' Europa League demolition of Sparta Prague. 'It's a fantastic problem to have two fantastic players', he explained. 'Trent's [Alexander-Arnold] clearly a world-class player and Conor Bradley is well on the way to becoming that already.'

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And while ordinarily it would be a bold claim to suggest that a defender who has made just 23 senior club appearances is on track to become 'world class', the reality is that the overwhelming heft of evidence suggests he could be. After all, nobody who has played five or more Premier League times for the Reds so far this season has averaged a higher average match rating than Bradley and in 18 outings across all competitions he has registered six assists and a goal.

He passes the fabled eye test too; to see him in full flight is to witness an exuberant attacking talent who revels in driving runs and exquisitely clipped balls into pockets of space. Bradley is pulsating, direct, and refreshing, and looks every inch the next great product of Liverpool's glittering youth academy.

Sometimes pundits have a tendency for hyperbole, to paint everything in shades of black and white without much room for nuance or subtlety. In this case, however, Cole is absolutely justified in his magnification; Conor Bradley really is looking as if he could become one of the very best in the world.

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