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Having played the perception game with Rob Dickie this week’s loanee of the week is perhaps a year or two behind but certainly on a similar pathway. I’m talking about Arsenal centre back Daniel Ballard, who made a second Championship start for Millwall in their 1-1 draw with Blackburn.
Perhaps Ballard will be looking at Dickie for inspiration on his journey, and there are a few similarities.
Ballard is operating on the right hand side of a back three, although I acknowledge under Gary Rowett his instructions may be a little more pragmatic than Dickie gets from boss Mark Warburton.
He has completed a very successful League 1 apprenticeship, starting 27 games as Blackpool were promoted via the play-offs. And, he’s starting to catch the eye at Championship level, his booming crossfield pass for Scott Malone to assist Millwall’s goal would be the envy of many a centre back.
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We always add a word of caution about the possibility of Championship loanees making it at their parent club, especially one the size of Arsenal, who just invested £50m in Brighton centre half Ben White.
Ballard will no doubt keep plugging away at Millwall, and judging by Arsenal’s defending in their opener at Brentford, maybe the gap between him and the first team is smaller than we think.