Sheffield Wednesday: Award winner Palmer backed to reach top

Liam Palmer
Liam Palmer
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A former Sheffield Wednesday legend and England international has tipped versatile Owls star Liam Palmer to play in the Premier League.

Footballer turned media pundit Carlton Palmer says the 22-year-old has been the major success story of a turbulent campaign.

Liam scooped the Wednesday Player of the Year award on Friday and claimed the Owls’ Player of the Year prize at The Star Football Awards dinner last night.

Although injury ruled Liam out of Wednesday’s final two Championship fixtures, his consistent form and steady displays have caught the eye of Carlton.

“He [Liam] has been fantastic this season and could play higher,” Carlton, who played 286 times for Wednesday, told this newspaper. “He’s a young kid who has got a lot of good attributes. If Liam keeps working hard on all aspects of his game, he can go far.”

Liam spent last season on loan at Tranmere Rovers and was deployed in the middle of the park by the League One club. Since returning to Hillsborough, his speed and athleticism have been utilised predominantly at right-back. Carlton sees similarities between Liam and ex-Manchester City and Chelsea defender Wayne Bridge.

“I was at Southampton with Wayne [Bridge] and he was a left winger who was converted into a left-back,” said Carlton, capped 18 times by his country. “Wayne was a bit naive, at first, but he’s got good pace and feet so got used to the role.

“Wayne played in the top flight for a number of years and Liam could do exactly the same.

“Liam’s positional sense has improved and tracking of runners. You have to learn to defend and he’s done that. I have been very impressed with him and I think he can kick on and do a lot better.”

Despite establishing himself as a first-team regular at Wednesday during the 2013/14 season, there is, according to Carlton, a department of Liam’s performance which can be fine-tuned.

He said: “Liam needs to bulk up physically and I would not be surprised if he works hard over the summer addressing that.”

Liam faces strong competition for the right-back spot from Lewis Buxton. Injuries have severely restricted Buxton’s involvement this term.

Carlton said: “I see Liam as a right-back and think he will better there than he would be as a central midfielder. When he and Kieran Lee played in the middle against Doncaster Rovers, they had the legs on them in the opening 15 to 20 minutes but over the 90 they couldn’t cope with Rovers’ strength.”