Daniel Ballard was full of praise for Freddie Ljungberg following his first call-up to the Northern Ireland senior squad.
The 19-year-old has always relished the basics of defending, but under the guidance of head coach Ljungberg, he’s taken his game to a new level and made a seamless transition into under-23s football.
“He’s brilliant,” said Ballard. “He’s made me look at the game in a completely different way. With the things that I struggle on he’s brilliant at coaching and on the ball he makes me think a lot more. I’m learning a lot from him, especially if I want to play at the highest level.”
The tough-tackling defender has watched Bukayo Saka, Charlie Gilmour and Zech Medley make their first team debuts under Unai Emery this season - and now he’s desperate to be next.
“I want to keep pushing and have consistent performances with the under-23s so that I can have more opportunities with the first team,” added Ballard.
“I think the manager trusts the youth, especially in the Europa League and even the Premier League. Bukayo has got some minutes and Eddie came (off the bench on Sunday) so there is opportunities.
“You just need to keep putting in consistent performances and wait for your chance. You’ve got to take it when you get it.”
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