Arsenal defender Dan Ballard opens up on his decision to snub Blackpool return and join Championship rivals Millwall

Dan Ballard says it’s an “honour” to join Millwall, a club he believes should be pushing for the play-offs in the Championship.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 2:58 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd July 2021, 3:02 pm

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Arsenal's Dan Ballard to line up against Blackpool in the Championship next seas...

Dan Ballard says it’s an “honour” to join Millwall, a club he believes should be pushing for the play-offs in the Championship.

The defender will line up against the Seasiders in the second tier next season, rather than for them, having completed a season-long loan move to the Den.

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The 21-year-old had been strongly linked with a return to Bloomfield Road, where he enjoyed a successful loan spell last term.

But a host of other Championship sides were keen on the Arsenal loanee, including Blackburn Rovers.

But Millwall are the side to win the race for the Northern Ireland international, Ballard opting to remain in the capital.

“I'm so excited to be here,” he said.

Ballard helped Blackpool win promotion from League One last season

“It's an honour to be able to represent this club. I can't wait to get going.

“I've seen all of the lads and met the manager, the buzz around here is good and the atmosphere seems nice. I'm looking forward to it.”

While Pool will be disappointed to lose out on one of last season’s star performers, they’ve already strengthened their ranks in the centre of defence with the signing of Oliver Casey from Leeds United and former Everton and Fleetwood Town man Callm Connolly.

Connolly recently hinted, however, that he could be utilised at right-back.

Neil Critchley already has Marvin Ekpiteta, Daniel Gretarsson and Jordan Thorniley on the books, while James Husband is also capable of playing in the centre of defence if and when required.

Nevertheless, it’s still a blow to miss out on Ballard given his impressive performances in tangerine last season.

Ballard made 31 appearances and was a key member of Blackpool’s promotion-winning side, starting their play-off final victory at Wembley against Lincoln City.

The centre-back, who also cited the emergence of new teammates Billy Mitchell (20) and Danny McNamara (22) as another factor for him deciding to join Millwall, said of his time at Blackpool: “It was a success last year personally, but this year will be an even bigger jump, stepping up into the Championship with a club pushing for the play-offs.

“With that comes a lot of responsibility, so hopefully I can step up and help the team. It's a step up from last year - I need to take these challenges on.

“It's good to see players of a similar age given the opportunity when they're doing well and playing. It gives me confidence that if I come in and work hard, then I'll play.”

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