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Arsenal man wins 8th cap for his country and is hailed for 'solid' display, Arteta's never played him

Arsenal defender Daniel Ballard has enjoyed a superb season out on loan.

The 21-year-old has come through the Gunners ranks and Hale End coaches rate him highly.

A long-term knee injury which required surgery sadly saw him miss out on most of the 2019-20 season.

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However, Ballard returned to fitness in the summer and joined Blackpool in October for a season-long loan.

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The Northern Irishman couldn’t have had a better season at Bloomfield Road.

He made 30 appearances in tangerine and helped the club earn promotion to the Championship via the League One playoffs.

Ballard is also on his way to double figures in terms of senior international caps.

He made his debut in September last year, playing the full 90 minutes in the Nations League draw with Romania.

Last night, Ballard won his eighth cap, playing the entirety of the friendly defeat to Ukraine.

Despite losing, Northern Ireland didn’t do too badly, and the national media praised most of the players.

Belfast Live said Ballard delivered a “solid display” while the Belfast Telegraph said he “continues to shine at this level”.

Ballard has progressed so much this year, and believe it or not, he hasn’t played a senior game for Arsenal yet.

Mikel Arteta would’ve had plenty of food for thought regarding Ballard, and surely he’ll take a closer look in pre-season.

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The Arsenal dream

In January, Ballard spoke to Goal.com about how he was finding life at Blackpool and his Arsenal ambitions.

“I think it’s important that you really experience what it’s like away from Arsenal,” he said. “I feel like a Blackpool player which I think it’s really important.

“It’s been really tough and the amount of games is hard to deal with. There are no easy games.

“You could be playing bottom of the league, but the quality isn’t any different from playing mid-table or even top of the league because you have to be a very good, well rounded professional to play at this level.

“There are no weak spots a lot of the time and everyone works their b******s off. It’s pretty relentless.”

Speaking about his parent club in the Premier League, he said: “I would love to represent Arsenal. It’s always the goal.

“I will keep focusing on myself and improving myself so that whenever they think the time is right, that I will be ready.”

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