Sheffield Wednesday: Hard work pays off for Owls defender

Liam Palmer
Liam Palmer
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Liam Palmer is focused on one thing and one thing only - controlling the controllables.

It has not been an easy season for the 26-year-old.

Liam Palmer

Liam Palmer

Palmer has largely provided back up to Jack Hunt on the right side of Wednesday’s defence. He has been in and out of the matchday squad as Carlos Carvalhal has searched in vain for a winning formula.

But Palmer returned to the starting line-up in Saturday’s dull goalless draw at Reading. It was only Palmer’s second Championship start and he acquitted himself well. He defended solidly and got forward when he could to support the attack, although his end product could have been better.

He told The Star. “It was nice to be back out there playing and helping the team keep a clean sheet. The gaffer made six changes at Reading and there were a few of us who hadn’t played in a while.

“I did my bit for the team on Saturday in helping us keep a clean sheet.

Liam Palmer

Liam Palmer

“Hopefully I showed the gaffer I am ready whenever he needs me. It is down to him who plays.”

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Palmer’s encouraging performance has given head coach Carvalhal a selection headache ahead of tomorrow’s crunch clash with Hull City. Does he stick with Palmer or recall Hunt, who has made 18 starts?

When quizzed on the competition for places, Palmer said: “Every player wants to win and play games. It’s frustrating when you don’t play but you have to use that frustration in the right way.

Liam Palmer

Liam Palmer

“You have to keep going and do the right things in training. It’s all about hard work and eventually that pays off.

“You have to keep yourself right physically and mentally. That’s all you can control.”

One of the few crumbs of comfort the Owls could take from their trip to the Madejski Stadium was recording a fourth shut out. Carvalhal’s charges have not been collectively as strong at the back compared to previous campaigns. Defensive lapses in concentration ha repeatedly cost them dearly.

“It was nice to get another clean sheet,” acknowledged Palmer. “That was a big positive as we haven’t had too many recently.

“We take a lot of pride in our defensive work and I’m sure our defensive coach Joao Mario Oliveira will have been pleased with that one.

“We were all disappointed we conceded from a set piece at Ipswich. We do a lot of work on set pieces.

“We were sloppy on the ball against Ipswich which led to being out of position defensively. They work at getting the ball wide quickly and caught us out a few times.

“We were better at Reading. They have some good players going forwards but we didn’t give them many chances.”

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Wednesday registered just five shots on target in their four-match November programme. Carvalhal has publicly voiced his concern over their lack of creativity, quipping the team can’t “buy it in the pharmacy”.

Long-serving Owls player Palmer accepts the side must improve in the final third if they are to edge themselves closer to the play-off pack.

He said: “In terms of the chances we have had, we have not had many on target but we have still had very good chances. You can make a big hoo-ha about the lack of chances that we are having but we got in some good positions at Reading. We got into some good areas and I think we deserved to score.

“But we do have to work goalkeepers more and maybe shoot a little from outside of the area rather than work it so much.”

Next up for Wednesday is a tussle with Hull, who are hovering just above the relegation zone. The Tigers pipped the Owls to promotion in 2016, beating Carvalhal’s men in the Play-Off Fina. But they came straight back down after failing to retain their Premier League status.

Palmer insisted: “It is not easy when you come down. We have seen it year after year. There are teams like Reading and Hull who are down near the bottom of the league who you would have expected to be in and around the top six.

“We are not going to underestimate Hull. We know what they are capable of on any given day.”

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