This was supposed to be a very important season in Daniel Ballard’s development, with the defender having joined Swindon Town on loan in order to gain valuable experience.
However, less than a month into the season, Ballard is reportedly set to return to Arsenal having suffered a knee injury that could rule him out for five months.
The 19-year-old is accustomed to dealing with adversity – he was let go twice by Arsenal before being resigned, while he has the security of a new contract which he signed just a few months ago.
However, this setback is particularly ill-timed for Ballard as he was just starting to experience what life as a professional footballer is like.
Ballard faced a battle to get into the Swindon side – his only starts so far had come in the Carabao Cup and the Leasing.com Trophy.
It was anticipated, though, that as the campaign progressed Ballard would receive further opportunities.
Now, for the first half of the season at least, that won’t be the case, and it remains to be seen whether he will return to Swindon once he is fully recovered or whether the deal could be cut short in January.
With William Saliba having signed and Zech Medley highly rated by the club, Ballard faces many obstacles in his quest to succeed at Arsenal and he has just been dealt another one.
Now all he can do is focus on the long road ahead as he looks to get back fit and salvage something from this season.