Arsenal’s Ballard named in Northern Ireland squad

Danny Ballard has signed a new contract with Arsenal (pic Arsenal FC)

Danny Ballard has signed a new contract with Arsenal (pic Arsenal FC) - Credit: Archant

Young Arsenal defender Daniel Ballard has made the final Northern Ireland squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifying games with Estonia and Belarus.

Martin O'Neill's men travel to Estonia on June 8, before travelling to Belarus three days later.

O'Neill said: "Daniel's shown up really well in training. You're looking at a boy that again was only playing in our Under-19s just over a year ago. He's played regularly in Arsenal's Under-23s this season."

The next stage for Ballard is probably a loan move as his call-up comes just a week after he signed a new professional contract at the Emirates Stadium.

Northern Ireland are sitting top of Group C after their opening home victories over Estonia and Belarus, but O'Neill knows that two more positive results are required to tee up an exciting end to the campaign with fixtures against Germany and the Netherlands.

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"It will be brilliant if we can come away with six points but we shouldn't take it for granted that it's going to be easy to do that," he said.

"We won the two games at home but we had to go right to the end to do that. These games are obviouly tougher away from home and particularly in June.

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"I think it's a huge ask to get six points but that's what we're aiming for because then we face the bigger teams in the strongest position we can be in.

"There's a real focus on that first game because if you can win that then it leads into a positivity into the second game."

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