Daniel Ballard returned to London Colney this week following the early conclusion of his loan spell at Millwall through injury.

LONDON, ENGLAND: Daniel Ballard of Millwall under pressure from Dominik Frieser of Barnsley during the Sky Bet Championship match between Millwall and Barnsley at The Den on April 09, 2022. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Daniel Ballard of Millwall under pressure from Dominik Frieser of Barnsley during the Sky Bet Championship match between Millwall and Barnsley at The Den on April 09, 2022. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)

Daniel Ballard’s loan to Millwall came to a slightly earlier end than expected, after an injury ruled him out of their final two matches of the regular season.

It was hoped that Ballard would be back in time for the play-offs, but Millwall didn’t qualify. As a result, his loan spell would be over by now regardless, injury or not.

But whilst some Arsenal loanees have gone from their loan spells straight out on holiday, Jeorge Bird reports that Ballard has initially returned to London Colney – presumably to work on his fitness.

Ballard won’t be able to feature for Arsenal on Sunday, but the centre-back will likely get a chance with the first team in pre-season if he doesn’t immediately secure another loan spell.

Millwall boss Gary Rowett believes Ballard has had a strong first campaign in the Championship, but he’s not expecting his side to include the defender next season.

“It’s really simple with Dan,” Rowett said. “He’s done really well. If Dan was available again we would certainly welcome him back.

“But I don’t expect he will be [coming back to Millwall] because I think Arsenal will probably seek a different type of challenge for him. It’s what those type of clubs tend to do.

“He’s had a good season in the Championship. Will they look for something else? I don’t know.”

Northern Ireland's defender Daniel Ballard controls the ball during FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification football match between Switzerland and Northern Ireland at the Stade de Geneve, in Geneva on October 9, 2021. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
Northern Ireland’s defender Daniel Ballard controls the ball during FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification football match between Switzerland and Northern Ireland at the Stade de Geneve, in Geneva on October 9, 2021. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Ballard ends the campaign having made 33 appearances (31 starts), a very solid campaign considering his mid-season knee surgery. He should be attracting interest from one of Europe’s top leagues this summer.

As well as rising to every challenge Arsenal have set him with his loan spells, the 22-year-old has also become a regular Northern Ireland international – racking up 13 caps already.

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