After a near three-month absence from competitive senior football through injury, Daniel Ballard made the ideal return as a substitute 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

Daniel Ballard made his first senior competitive appearance for Millwall since November on Saturday, following three months out enforced by his knee surgery.

Ballard came off the bench for the final 26 minutes against Sheffield United, and he picked up right where he left off.

The centre-back made four clearances, three interceptions, two tackles, and won eight out of his nine individual duels to secure a clean sheet and a 1-0 win for Millwall. He wasn’t dribbled past once, nor did he concede a free-kick.

https://twitter.com/dg_ballard/status/1497660097249566726

The Millwall fans had plenty of nice things to say after the game:

  • @gwyatt03: “I wish you could sign for us permanently…you already have the Lion spirit!”
  • @jon_omara: “Very assured when you came on Dan”
  • @lionj1971: “Thought you were superb”
  • @bigbirdnatalie: “Like you’d never been away. Back where you belong”
  • @themonk96239825: “Welcome back mate brilliant as usual when you came on”
Daniel Ballard of Millwall during the pre-game warmup - Swansea, Swansea.com Stadium, West Glamorgan, United Kingdom. Copyright: Mike Jones / News Images
Daniel Ballard of Millwall during the pre-game warmup – Swansea, Swansea.com Stadium, West Glamorgan, United Kingdom. Copyright: Mike Jones / News Images

Ballard had already spent some time back out on the pitch since recovering, completing 45 minutes playing for the Millwall u23s against Ipswich Town.

The first team were clearly keen to ease him back though, giving him a spot on the bench on a couple of occasions before reintroducing him.

Millwall fans will now hope to see him a lot more from now until the end of the campaign.

Ballard had played more minutes than any other Arsenal player (loan or otherwise) before his injury, making 21 appearances for Millwall in all competitions.

The defender had also made four appearances for Northern Ireland on international duty over the same period. He’s a key man for club and country when he’s fit and on form.

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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.