Daniel Ballard admits he’s pleasantly surprised to be playing as much as he is with Millwall on loan so far, after featuring in another win on Saturday.

Millwall v Fulham - Daniel Ballard of Millwall during the Sky Bet Championship match at The Den, London. Copyright: Brian Tonks
Millwall v Fulham – Daniel Ballard of Millwall during the Sky Bet Championship match at The Den, London. Copyright: Brian Tonks

Arsenal’s current group of loanees haven’t all had a good time of things so far, with Tom Smith, Matt Smith, Jordi Osei-Tutu, and Nikolaj Möller already among those to suffer injuries or Covid-19 setbacks.

One player who hasn’t had any problems settling in and playing regularly is Daniel Ballard, who has played every minute of Millwall’s Championship campaign so far, as well as featuring for 80 minutes in the League Cup in midweek.

That start has even surprised the player himself, who explains that he was prepared for strong competition for places with Millwall.

“I probably didn’t expect to come in straight away and get the minutes I have done,” Ballard said. “I’m extremely delighted with that. To be able to keep my spot now is a good start, on a personal level.

“I knew there was probably a lot more competition coming here than maybe going elsewhere. It gave me that bit of extra drive that I needed, especially in training and the pre-season games.

“It made me work extremely hard. I knew if I wasn’t performing, or putting the effort in, I wouldn’t get the game time.”

In Ballard’s latest appearance, he featured as the right-centre-back in a back three against Blackpool. He made four interceptions, one tackles and won 12 duels as Millwall earned a 2-1 victory on the day.

Ballard has never seemed particularly phased by any steps up in his career, whether it’s moving to a higher English division or playing for his country on a now-regular basis. So perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising his coaches are always willing to rely on him.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.