Daniel Ballard made another couple of appearances for the Northern Ireland national team over the international break, including one at right-back.

Daniel Ballard with Northern Ireland (Photo via Ballard on Twitter)
Daniel Ballard with Northern Ireland (Photo via Ballard on Twitter)

Arsenal academy defender Daniel Ballard is on loan with Blackpool this season, where things are generally going very well. Blackpool are up into the play-off places, and Ballard has started the last eight consecutive club games he was available for.

The 21-year-old had to miss the last couple of Blackpool games, however, so he could join up with Northern Ireland over the international break.

After a friendly appearance against the USA in a 2-1 defeat (for which he was widely praised), Ballard made the starting lineup for a competitive fixture against Bulgaria on Wednesday. But interestingly, the centre-back was named at right-back for the side.

With Craig Cathcart and Jonny Evans as the centre-back pairing on the day and Jamal Lewis on the left, right-back was Ballard’s only way into the starting lineup.

It all seemed to go pretty well. Ballard made a clearance, a tackle, and an interception without being dribbled past, and he did enough in possession to complete 80% of his passes and create one chance.

Given it’s not his natural position, helping to keep a clean sheet for the 74 minutes he was on the pitch was a positive for Ballard, even though it was overshadowed by their disappointment not to score on the day.

It looks like Ballard is set to be a regular fixture in the Northern Ireland squads from now on, regardless of exactly where in the defence he’s playing.