Daniel Ballard made his 20th appearance of the season on loan with Millwall this week, and he admits he feels lucky to have this opportunity.
Arsenal loanee Daniel Ballard played yet another 90 minutes on Wednesday, helping Millwall to secure a 1-1 draw against 2nd-placed Championship side Bournemouth.
The centre-back hardly put a foot wrong defensively on the night, making three clearances, two interceptions, three tackles, and winning 10 of his 13 individual duels.
The game was Ballard’s 20th club appearance of the season, as he’s now made 18 starts in the Championship, as well as one start and one substitute appearance in the League Cup.
In terms of playing time, it’s easily Arsenal’s most successful loan.
Ballard has played over 200 more minutes than any other loanee, and close to 600 minutes more than any Arsenal player this season.
Speaking to the BBC this week, Ballard said he feels lucky to get this opportunity, even if it’s a difficult challenge.
“I still feel extremely privileged and lucky to be able to play for Millwall in this league,” Ballard said.
“It’s extremely hard work, and it’s probably one of the best leagues to go and learn from, and learn how football’s played.
“The demands, the expectations from the fans and the manager and the players around you. I’m trying to take it all in my stride.”
There’s been some suggestion from the Millwall manager and the fans that Ballard is a natural fit for the club, and the centre-back says he understands where they’re coming from.
“I’ve always played with that extra bit of aggression, and always wanted to be on the front foot,” Ballard added.
“I do love the defensive side of the game, I love battling and tackling and winning my headers. That’s always been my style.”
There seems little doubt right now that Ballard will get plenty more time on the pitch for the remainder of the season. That would be a real positive for him when he does return to Arsenal.