Facing Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road was a real eye opener for Worksop-born star Liam Palmer.
Asked to fill in at right-back in the absence of injured duo Lewis Buxton and Kieran Lee, the Sheffield Wednesday youngster was given the daunting job of tracking highly-rated QPR winger Junior Hoilett at Loftus Road.
Palmer has acknowledged marking the skilful attacker was one of the toughest tests of his fledgling football career as the Owls lost 2-1 in the capital despite having two big penalty claims turned down by the referee.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s Capital One Cup first round encounter with Rotherham United, he said: “Junior is one of the best players in the division in that position. They [QPR] have a lot of experience and quality throughout their squad.
“It was a good test for me and that’s why you take up football as a youngster. You want to play against the best players.”
“I thought I did alright,” he added. “At times, he got past me but you are going to get that with a player of his quality. I just have to learn from it.
“You take heart from playing against all these high profile names and I will just look to take that experience into future games.
“It was great to be involved at QPR. Every player wants to play in the first game of the season. It was a great experience and atmosphere.”
With Buxton (shin splints and a virus) expected to be out of action for between two to three weeks, Palmer is poised to again be deployed in the right-back spot at the New York Stadium.
A graduate of the club’s youth system, the 21-year-old is primarily a midfield player. But as he has previously stated and shown throughout pre-season, Palmer is happy to play anywhere as long as he is in the starting line-up.
Dave Jones, the Wednesday manager, has spoken to Palmer regarding his role. He is pleased with the performances the lifelong Owls supporter has put in since returning to Hillsborough following a successful loan spell at Tranmere Rovers last season. Jones regards Palmer as somebody who can at full-back or on the right hand side of midfield.
“If you can play in a number of positions, it is only going to benefit you,” he insisted. “Wherever I am told to play, I will give a 100 per cent.”
Regardless of what role he is told to perform, Palmer is determined to become a first-team regular. He says he used to find playing at Hillsborough a “nerve racking” experience and was a “bit overrawed” by playing in front of big crowds. Now Palmer believes he can handle anything that is thrown at him, having matured as a person and a player at Tranmere.
He said: “When you play in the reserves, there isn’t a crowd there and there isn’t an atmosphere as when you are playing for three points. Don’t get me wrong, reserve team football is good but if you can get out on loan, from my experience, I would say it stands you in good stead.
“I was a bit sceptical of going out in the big wide world and when you are living away from home it can be a daunting thought but you’ve got to take the plunge and that’s what I did and it looks to have paid off so far.”
Palmer, who is not eligible to play for Scotland in the England Under-21 international friendly at Bramall Lane next Tuesday, is relishing the challenge of facing South Yorkshire rivals Rotherham tonight.
He said: “They are a side on the up. They got promotion last season. I’ve been to the new stadium to watch a couple of games. It is a great ground
“I’ve got a few friends who support Rotherham so I will be looking to get a good result so I don’t get too much stick!
“It has got that extra spice with it being a local derby.”