Daniel Ballard’s first loan spell away from Arsenal didn’t go to plan as he was recalled early from his stint at Swindon Town due to injury.
Matters are going considerably better for the defender at Blackpool this season, however, as he has produced some encouraging performances when called upon.
A minor injury saw him miss several games, but the 21-year-old has settled in well in a first-team environment and it seems likely that his loan deal, which is set to expire in January, will be extended until the end of the season.
It will certainly be interesting to see what happens with Ballard at the end of the campaign. He will turn 22 in the early stages of next season and therefore will no longer be considered a youngster as far as Premier League rules are concerned.
The centre-back has an excellent attitude and is constantly improving, while he has also made an impact on the senior stage at international level, making five caps for Northern Ireland.
Arsenal also have other young centre-backs to consider, including Zech Medley, Mark McGuinness and Harry Clarke, all of whom have also gained valuable experience on loan in the first half of the season.
Ballard will be eager to show, though, that he is the one that is most deserving of first-team opportunities at Arsenal.