Ireland were interested in Conor Bradley switching allegiance from Northern Ireland 7 months ago

Ireland were interested in Conor Bradley switching allegiance from Northern Ireland

"It's going to be a long process to get him back."

The FAI were interested in Conor Bradley switching allegiance from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland, Under-21 coach Jim Crawford has said.

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The Liverpool right-back, 18, is from Co. Tyrone and played GAA before he joined the Anfield club in 2019.

Bradley, however, has been capped at senior level by Northern Ireland and a switch now seems unlikely.

Ireland were interested in Conor Bradley switching from Northern Ireland.

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Northern Ireland senior manager Ian Baraclough called Bradley up to his squad for October's matches against Switzerland and Bulgaria. The 18-year-old came off the bench in the 2-0 defeat to the Swiss and, as a result, any potential switch to the Republic has been complicated.

Fifa rules state that players who are under the age of 21 may participate in up to three international games before they can switch allegiance. Bradley has featured five times for Northern Ireland.

Fifa rules also say that a footballer can represent another eligible nation if they wait three years from their last international appearance.

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Jim Crawford on Conor Bradley.

Crawford has said that, as it stands, Bradley is a Northern Ireland player and a switch to the Republic, while not completely off the table, would be quite complex.

"Conor has gone to the North," the Ireland Under-21 coach said at a press conference announcing his squad for matches against Sweden and Italy this month.

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"He was somebody who we were certainly interested in. Liverpool are exceptionally keen on him. Our interest was there, we were talking to third parties about him and then all of a sudden he gets called up to the senior team and played with the North.

"It's going to be a long process to get him back... Anybody of that talent, of course, you’d want on board... It's just going to make it a little bit more difficult now that he's got a senior cap."

It was put to Crawford that there was still a small chance that Bradley could switch allegiance to the Republic of Ireland.

"Yeah, but there are protocols to that... Obviously, the player has to show an interest in coming to play for us and we can take it from there. But until that happens, it's a stalemate at the minute."

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Conor Bradley's career so far.

Crawford went on to say that the player has not closed the door on representing Ireland, but also has not indicated a willingness to abandon his career with Northern Ireland.

The Republic of IrelandRepublic of Ireland Under-21 manager said Bradley would have to indicate his preference to switch before anything else can happen. The Castlederg-native has been called up to the Northern Ireland senior squad for this month's matches against Lithuania and Italy.

Bradley has made two appearances for Liverpool this season, both in EFL Cup.