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Arsenal youngster Daniel Ballard earns first call-up to Northern Ireland senior squad for Euro qualifiers

PUBLISHED: 19:04 12 March 2019

Daniel Ballard has been called up to the Northern Ireland senior squad for the first time. Picture: Twitter @dg_ballard

Daniel Ballard has been called up to the Northern Ireland senior squad for the first time. Picture: Twitter @dg_ballard

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Arsenal under-23 defender Daniel Ballard has earned his first call-up to the Northern Ireland senior squad ahead of their upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers.

The 19-year-old will be part of Michael O’Neil’s 27-man squad for the games against Estonia and Belarus, having already made three appearances for the under-21 side.

Ballard is yet to make his first-team debut for Arsenal, but he did signed his first professional contract last June after captaining the under-18 side that reached the FA Youth Cup final last season.

It has been a meteoric rise for the Stevenage-born central defender, who was released by the Gunners as a 14-year-old.

He moved to Southampton, but his spell on the South coast ended after he broke his ankle.

But, after a call from then Arsenal academy chief Andries Jonker, Ballard was given the opportunity to play for the U18 side against Bayern Munich. He impressed and the club reversed their decision, asking him to return to Hale End.

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