Liam Palmer on why Sheffield Wednesday will need to ‘concentrate from the off’ against Blackburn Rovers
Blackburn Rovers might be in Sheffield Wednesday’s rear view mirror in the league table but they’re not a prospect to be taken lightly.
That’s the message from Owls star Liam Palmer, who is preparing for a tricky test against Tony Mowbray’s side at Hillsborough on Saturday.
The defender, who was recently handed a first senior call-up to the Scotland squad, has been integral in Wednesday’s recent defensive improvements and is hoping his team will be more robust than they were against Rovers earlier in the campaign.
Speaking to the Star, Palmer said: "When we went to their place, they were one of the strongest teams we came up against.
"We shipped in a few goals and we are well aware of their attacking threat.
"We will have to be on it and concentrate right from the off because they have got some good, quality players.”
Last time the two sides met in December, Wednesday were on the receiving end of a 4-2 defeat after Rovers front men Danny Graham and Bradley Dack terrorised the Owls defence.
For Palmer, the memory of the strike from Dack and Graham’s hat-trick will be at the forefront of his mind as Wednesday look to preserve their unbeaten home record which stretches back to November.
"It was tough to take,” Palmer said. “When you concede that amount of goals, it is difficult to take as a defender.
"But looking back at that game, I think we did move the ball quite well in the first half. It was just a case of every time they went forward they looked as if they were going to score. That has settled now and we are a lot more solid and hopefully we can continue that form.
"They seem to have a telepathic understanding at times and obviously Graham has got great movement and Dack can find him so we need to nullify that and try and stop that at source by getting after them.
“We then have to impose ourselves on the game because we are the home team.”
Graham and Dack have 25 goals between them in the league this term, but were unable to prevent a seven match run without a win until they both found the net in Rovers’ 3-0 win over Wigan on Tuesday night.
With the Lancashire side now sitting 16th in the Championship table on 47 points, they are five places and five points behind Wednesday, who have closed the gap on the play-offs to just four points.
Of the Owls’ remaining nine matches this season, six will come against teams currently above them in the league table but Palmer is confident that Steve Bruce’s men are in the best position they can be to mount a late push for the top six.
If they are to manage the unexpected and achieve a play-off berth however, they will have to do so without a handful of key players.
Injury-hit Wednesday were given another blow this week as Bruce confirmed that striker Lucas Joao could be sidelined for the rest of the season with a knee injury, while Fernando Forestieri will also miss the clash with Rovers but could be back after the international break.
With Josh Onomah, Matt Penney, Gary Hooper, Kieran Lee and Jordan Thorniley all out or recovering from injury, the upcoming break will be a welcome break to patch up those with less serious lay-offs.
The visitors are not without their own injury woes, as Tony Mowbray is without any of his three first choice defenders in Charlie Mulgrew, Darragh Lenihan and Jack Rodwell.
Wednesday are set to face a makeshift back line after full back Amari’i Bell limped off against Wigan earlier in the week and youngster Tyler Magloire was given his debut.
Whether Wednesday will have enough left in the tank after a difficult campaign, but Palmer believes momentum is key.
"It is difficult to say. We have given ourselves a great chance to mount a challenge.
“We need to take in this next game and we have then got the break. We will be giving it our all before and the lads have got a bit of a break and hopefully we can pick up another three points.
"It is confidence and we have to try and keep that momentum going. We are at home with our fans behind us so hopefully we can go again.”