The 22-year-old, who was told to find a new permanent home from Arsenal this summer, was reportedly close to securing a move to Burnley.
However, it is the Black Cats who have secured his permanent services, following excellent loan stints with Blackpool and then Millwall.
With defensive competition intensifying for the new campaign, Wright shared his thoughts on Ballard and the addition of the young defender whilst in conversation with the Chronicle Live: “He’s played a lot of games for someone who is still only 22.
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“I played against him when he was at Blackpool and rated him really highly – I thought he was a stand-out there – and then he had a great season last year at Millwall. He’s an international, he has a lot of experience, and he seems a great addition as a person, too.”
As Wright points out, he has accumulated a lot of experience at senior level already, making excellent progress with the Lions and the Seasiders during his two temporary spells away from the club.
That is without even considering his international adventures, with Ballard cementing himself as an integral first-teamer with Northern Ireland.
Defensively impressive, and a composed figure when in possession and bringing the ball out, Ballard is an excellent addition for the club who have just won promotion back to the Championship.
He will now be looking to settle in ahead of an important campaign for the Black Cats, with Alex Neil’s likely to set their sights much further away than just surviving the second-tier drop.