Arsenal academy defender Daniel Ballard has been named in North Ireland’s senior squad for their upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Estonia and Belarus.
This morning, Northern Ireland officially confirmed that Ballard will be in their 27-man squad for the upcoming competitive qualifiers. It’s his first senior international call-up, though he has appeared four times and scored once for the u21s.
The decision is a little bit of a surprise, considering Ballard hasn’t even made his debut for Arsenal yet. The 19-year-old’s most recent appearance was for the u23s against Premier League 2 leaders Everton, and he helped the Gunners keep their second clean sheet in three games.
Earlier in the campaign, the centre-back made a bit of a name for himself with his knack for goalline clearances:
Shoutout to Danny Ballard, who has made 3 goal-line clearances in his last 3 games for the u23s. Arsenal kept 2 extra clean sheets thanks to him.
— Dan Critchlow (@afcDW) October 24, 2018
Emery still hasn’t given Ballard a first-team club call-up, but he’s highly rated around the academy so it’s sure to come soon enough.
Most likely, Ballard won’t be making any starts for Northern Ireland just yet. These are serious competitive fixtures after all, and it’s his first time among the senior professionals.
Nonetheless, just having the opportunity to be involved in training and travelling with his country’s first-team squad should make it a fantastic experience for the youngster. If he gets any minutes off the bench or ends up being drafted in after an injury, that’ll be a bonus. Good luck to him!