It has been a season of frustration for Daniel Ballard, with the defender’s loan spell at Swindon Town having been cut short by a serious knee injury.
After working extremely hard during his recovery, Ballard, 20, is now nearing a return to action and is already back in light training.
Ballard will inevitably take some time to build up his match fitness having been out for several weeks, but it will be intriguing to see what lies in store for him when he is back available.
The centre-back, who has previously been called up by Northern Ireland at senior level, is undoubtedly one of Arsenal’s best defensive prospects, but it seems unlikely that he will be thrown into first-team action this season as he looks to build up his sharpness.
Another loan spell, perhaps a return to Swindon, is an option, but the most likely scenario would seem to encompass Ballard remaining with Arsenal’s U23 side for the rest of the season and then training with the senior squad on some occasions.
In the summer a decision can then be made on Ballard’s future and it is certainly possible that he could be involved with the senior squad in pre-season.
At present, and regardless of what will come next for him, Ballard will simply be delighted that his injury nightmare is nearing an end.