The midfielder, 21, recently signed a two-year deal to keep him at the club he has been with for five years without making a first team appearance. Palmer – who is from Wigan and spent a decade in Manchester City’s academy – will be nearly 24 by the time that deal runs out so knows he needs to establish himself in those two years as a Reds regular.
He told the Chronicle: “I have had a few ups and downs here, mainly with injuries which have held me back a bit. I did have a few doubts but the club has stuck by me from the minute I got here and reassured me plenty of times. It’s been amazing and I am starting to believe in myself. The new contract is the biggest reassurance and it’s helped me set my goals to get into the first team. I am 21 which, in terms of Barnsley, is getting on a bit because you look at the first team and there are loads of players my age or younger.
“I need to establish myself in these two years. It’s not a case of hoping to make it, I have to make it now or never. I am a lot more mature physically and mentally. I know everyone at the club and I really like it here.”
With fellow central midfielder Kenny Dougall’s contract set to run out at the end of June and contract negotiations ongoing, while matchday squads have been extended to 20 players, there could be opportunities for Palmer if he impresses Gerhard Struber in training. The midfielder said: “I have never felt more ready. We don’t know what the team will be, he could shuffle it a bit. With the time we have had off, the whole squad will be important.”
Head coach Struber has encouraged Palmer and put him on the first team bench for the defeat at Bristol City in January. Palmer said: “He took a clear liking to me from the get-go. I knocked on his office door and we had a good chat. I have seen players like Clarke Oduor and Elliot Simoes play, and Jacob Brown in the first team, and I don’t see why it can’t be me. It’s encouraging. I am versatile, I like to drive with the ball and I am athletic but I can pass it too. I can do the nasty side as well. The confidence is oozing out of me.”
Palmer is thrilled to be back in training. He said: “We have been eagerly anticipating coming back and it’s definitely lifted our spirits. It is very strange doing non-contact training but the way the club has done it has been great. We are all getting fitter and we are doing a lot of technical work. We’re not complaining, we’re just getting on with it. We 100 per cent expect to finish the season and we want to put things right in terms of the league position.”