Sheffield Wednesday star Liam Palmer has told South Yorkshire rivals Rotherham United: “We owe you one.”
Tomorrow’s derby will be their first competitive meeting since August 2013 when the Millers triumphed 2-1 in the first round of the Capital One Cup at a sold-out New York Stadium.
Palmer, who started in that tie, told The Star: “Both clubs have come a long way from that game. To be honest, I think we are a better outfit now. It’s quite different in the cup to the league.
“I am not really thinking too much about what happened then, but we do know we owe them one from that game.”
Clear-the-air talks were held between Wednesday’s coaching staff and players after Tuesday’s dismal showing against new leaders Bournemouth.
Head coach Stuart Gray kept the players locked in the dressing room for nearly an hour post-match. He described their performance as “unacceptable” and questioned the team’s desire.
Worksop-born Palmer said “everyone was disappointed” with their display but claims the mood in training yesterday was “bright and enthusiastic” as the Owls look to turn the corner.
On the dressing room inquest, he said: “We are all adults, all friends, so we just got it out in the open and deal with it. There’s no point in leaving any stone unturned. If there’s something on your chest, it’s best to get it out there. I think that’s the best way to deal with it.
“Everyone had their opinion, and I think that’s a good thing. You know where you stand with each other. If you have a problem, you discuss it, work it out and move on.
“I think it could galvanise us as a group. We need to stick together, press together - not just one or two - and get back to basics.”
Royston Drenthe’s second half dismissal versus the Cherries for two bookable offences was the turning point, according to Palmer.
“Up until the sending off, we both had a few chances, and it was looking like one of those games where we might go on and nick it towards the end,” he said. “When Royston got sent off, against a team like Bournemouth - the way they pass it, they just ground us down.
“Even the first goal, a counter-attack from our corner, it’s not like they have carved us open. It was disappointing.
“We have not won in a while and need to get back that winning feeling.”
For Palmer, an ever present this season, Rotherham is the “ideal” clash as they bid to get back to winning ways.
“It’s a derby, everyone will be up for it - we would be up for it anyway - and looking to bounce back from the defeat,” he said. “It’s ideal, to have a good scrap and get three points.
“We always get big crowds whoever we play, but with it being a derby, they will bring a few - which will add to the occasion - and get us going.”
More than 4,500 supporters will cheer on Rotherham tomorrow. After back-to-back Championship defeats, the Millers lie in 18th position, three points and four places below their neighbours.
Palmer said: “From what I have seen of Rotherham, a couple of times, they like to play direct, so it’s about winning those aerial battles.
“They have had a decent start - like ourselves - and are in a bit of a rut at the minute. It will be a scrap, a tough game, and one we need to be up for.
“To play in any derby, it’s always a ferocious pace, tackles flying in, people getting in your face pressing. That’s what it will be like on Saturday, we know that.
The 23-year-old insists he is unconcerned over Wednesday’s poor home form. Gray’s troops have won just one of their eight league matches at Hillsborough.
Palmer said: “We do tend to defend, but we are having the chances. We have come up against some good sides at home, Watford, teams like that who have great attacking ability. That’s why it’s probably looked like we are always defending.
“We don’t set out to defend, we want to attack as much as fans want to see us, to score goals.
“Saturday just has to be a honest performance, all dig in, stick together, get the crowd behind us and get them cheering.”
All three of Wednesday’s home strikes have come from dead ball situations.
“Free-kicks and corners are a big part in football these days,” said Palmer.
“You see it in the big games, like Chelsea v Manchester United, where two goals come from set-plays.”