Arsenal youngster impressed for N Ireland but biggest test ahead

Arsenal youngster Daniel Ballard impressed for Northern Ireland on Friday night against Romania, but may be further tested today by Norway.

The 19 year-old made his debut for his national side this weekend, despite his club side having yet to call him up to the senior side for a competitive tie.

The youngster impressed by winning 80% of his aerial duels and making six interceptions as his side snatched a 1-1 draw despite playing more than half of the match with 10 men.

The defender has now revealed how proud he was to make his international bow.

“It was probably one of the proudest moments of my life so far, definitely,” Ballard said. “I was quite nervous going into the game. I knew the occasion and what it means to play for Northern Ireland.

“I just tried to settle into the game and do the simple things. We wanted the three points, but the circumstances made it difficult.

“But I am just so proud to get something out of the game. It was a tough game and I really enjoyed it.

“I was called up to the U21s a week or so ago, and then there were some problems with Tom Flanagan, and then Jonny Evans after that.

“So from going with the U21s to starting for the senior team is a big jump. It came as a bit of a shock but I was ready for the challenge.”

Ballard could now be in contention to start in tonight’s UEFA Nations League fixture with Norway, who can boast an attacking trio of Josh King, Erling Haaland and Alexander Sorloth.

“I will be looking forward to Monday now (against Norway),” Ballard told reporters after his side’s draw in Bucharest.

“If I have to face the best players in the world I will be ready. I am up for the challenges.”

Will Ballard’s performance land him a reasonable loan offer, or could another impressive performance tonight persuade Mikel Arteta to keep him around the first-team squad?

Patrick

Tags Daniel Ballard

2 Comments

  1. ozziegunner says:

    Hopefully Ballard gets some opportunities this season. He is a young talent, given a chance by Wales, before his club.
    And some people have argued the Academy doesn’t produce defenders.

    1. ozziegunner says:

      Sorry, Northern Ireland, not Wales!

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