Blackpool's Arsenal loanee impresses during friendly outing for Northern Ireland - despite conceding harsh penalty

Blackpool's Dan Ballard impressed for Northern Ireland yesterday, despite giving away a disputed penalty.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 9:29 am
Updated Monday, 29th March 2021, 9:30 am

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The 21-year-old was handed his sixth cap for his country as he started Northern Ireland's international friendly defeat to the USA.

He was a part of a back three alongside Conor McLaughlin and Ciaron Brown.

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Ballard was in fine form throughout, despite conceding a second-penalty after being adjudged to have fouled Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic.

Replays showed Ballard won the ball.

"Dan Ballard did nothing to diminish his growing reputation as an international player," BBC Sport wrote.

"Ballard's ability to step up to international football was a plus-point of Ian Baraclough's first eight games last autumn and he once again showed that he is comfortable playing in a back three that seems to be preferred by the former Under-21 boss.

Ballard earned his sixth Northern Ireland cap yesterday

"The Arsenal loanee dived in and gave away the penalty from which the visitors claimed their second goal, but he remained composed throughout, and the fact he was taken off early could suggest that he has a chance of starting against Bulgaria on Wednesday."

Baraclough's side take on Bulgaria in Belfast on Wednesday in their second World Cup qualifier.

The Arsenal loanee was an unused substitute last week as Northern Ireland began their qualifying campaign with a 2-0 defeat to Italy in Parma.

If Ballard doesn't feature on Wednesday, there's a chance the defender could be available for Blackpool's Good Friday trip to Swindon Town.

Fellow League One player Dion Charles, formerly of Blackpool but now at Accrington Stanley, was handed his international debut off the bench.

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