From a squad player to the brink of a Scotland international call-up – How Liam Palmer has revived his Sheffield Wednesday career
There is no disputing the fact that Liam Palmer has blossomed in the post Jos Luhukay era.
Palmer shared the right-back role with Ash Baker in the first half of the season during Luhukay's largely forgettable reign. Palmer struggled for consistency as Luhukay constantly rotated his defence.
But the versatile player has been given a new lease of life under the two Steve's; Agnew and Bruce, making 16 starts on the spin since Luhukay's sacking on December 21.
As well as ousting Baker, he kept January signing Dominic Iorfa waiting in the wings for a starting spot .
It is crystal clear that Palmer, one of nine players whose Hillsborough deals expire at the end of the season, has benefited from a long run in the team. His confidence levels and self belief has soared as he has undoubtedly established himself as a key member of Wednesday's back four.
So well has Palmer performed that Bruce even turned to him to solve their left-back issue after Achraf Lazaar picked up a hamstring injury. Despite playing out of position, Palmer helped the Owls record back-to-back clean sheets against Brentford and Sheffield United. He was a bright spot from the goalless draw at home to promotion-chasing United.
Bruce told The Star: "Liam has done very well. I asked him to play left-back the other day and he did it no problem at all. He was excellent."
Palmer's rich vein of form is expected to lead to international recognition. It is understood the 27-year-old is set to be included in the provisional Scotland squad for their European Championship qualifying double-header with Kazakhstan and San Marino later this month.
"I am pleased for Liam," added Bruce. "As I said to all of them when I walked through the door, they will be judged on what they do on the pitch."
Palmer, capped eight times by Scotland Under-21s, has never represented his adopted country at senior level. Born-and-bred in Worksop, Palmer qualifies for the Scots through his late grandmother.
"It’s difficult because I’ve played at Sheffield Wednesday for my whole career and sometimes you can get overlooked," said Palmer, who has made over 200 appearances for the Owls.
"Under the previous manager at Wednesday I was in and out of the team so maybe Scotland managers looked at that, which I can appreciate. They probably wonder why.
"But I’m now playing every week for a huge Championship club. I’m on a good run of form so hopefully that will give me a better Scotland chance.
"It’s still one of my ambitions and it would mean a lot if Alex McLeish were to give me the call.
"On my mum’s side of the family, my late nan was born in Carluke – so that’s where the Scottish connection comes from.
"So far, the call has never come but I’ll keep my head down and hopefully it will happen one day.
“I was honoured to represent the country at younger age groups. So if I got a full cap it would make myself and my family proud."