Blackpool have secured an agreement with Arsenal to keep on-loan defender Daniel Ballard at the club for the rest of the season.

The Northern Ireland international’s current loan deal with the League One side was due to expire at the end of January.

However, the Seasiders have moved to swiftly to extend that deal and keep the 21-year-old at Bloomfield Road until the end of the season.

Ballard has played in eight matches so far for Neil Critchley’s side, helping the side keep clean sheets in half of those.

Critchley expressed his gratitude to Arsenal for allowing him to keep the player at Blackpool for the remainder of the campaign.

He told the official club website: “Daniel plays like a leader, with real character and personality on the pitch. He’s been terrific to work with and will continue to improve and get better.

READ: Blackpool man set to seal agreement with League Two side

“We thank Arsenal for entrusting us with Daniel’s development and now look forward to having him for the second part of the season.”

Alex Burstow/Getty Images Sport

Ballard himself was also delighted to see the loan deal extended until the end of the current season.

He said: “I’m extremely happy to extend my loan until the end of the season. I’ve enjoyed my time here so far and I want to continue helping the team push up the table.

“I’ve felt comfortable from the first minute I arrived and, in my mind, this is the best place for me to be playing my football at the moment.”

Ballard, who can also play in midfield, is yet to make a professional appearance for the Gunners, with this current spell at Blackpool the second loan of his career.

He had a brief spell at League Two side Swindon Town last season but only played three matches, scoring his first senior goal in an EFL Trophy tie against Chelsea Under-21s.

Ballard joined the Seasiders in October and, with an agreement now in place to stay for the season, will hope to add to the appearances notched so far in tangerine.

Last year also brought his first senior caps for Northern Ireland, for whom he qualifies through his mother, and he has made five international appearances so far.