Romal Palmer’s opportunities to play have been limited by central midfield being one of Barnsley’s strongest areas but he sees that as a positive as he looks to build on a ‘whirlwind’ 2020.
The 22-year-old has played ten games this season, following on from making his first three appearances for the Reds in June. But he has started just twice in the Championship this season as he is competing with captain Alex Mowatt as well as deadline day signings Matty James and Herbie Kane while Callum Styles, who usually plays at left wing-back, can also be used in the middle.
Palmer told the Chronicle: “It happens like that in football sometimes and I can’t even say anything bad about it.
“You want players like that around you. It’s only going to make me better.
“I just need to focus my game and try to break into the team but the players in front of me are doing amazing and I respect that. Every day, on and off the pitch, I can learn a lot off players like Matty James and Alex.
“They have tons of experience.”
Palmer is enjoying working under head coach Valerien Ismael, who has brought him off the bench regularly as one of five substitutes. Palmer said: “I introduced myself because I had a frustrating groin strain when he arrived so we hadn’t spoken too much.
“We had a chat, and it’s good to be able to talk about things.
“It was very beneficial and I know I can talk to him whenever. I wanted to be involved and help the team. The five subs has definitely benefited me personally and it helps the team as well.
“The gaffer has improved us a lot in our mentality of how to see out games and win. His influence has been very good and very positive. He’s very clear on how he wants us to play and to act around the club.
“He has a huge aura and a good background in football which we all respect.
“It was a very disappointing result on Saturday (a 2-0 loss in Swansea) and probably one of the worst performances under the new boss. But it’s been great in the last few months and we’re in a very respectable league position. I was looking myself at last season’s results and this season, and it’s a world apart.
“It’s only halfway through so we can’t think we’ve achieved anything.
“We don’t want to settle for where we are. Why can’t we do better and push further up the table?”
Palmer scored his first senior goal last month when he fired in a consolation strike in the 90th minute of a 2-1 loss at Blackburn Rovers.
He said: “It wasn’t something I thought would come at this point. But it was amazing because you dream about scoring goals as a kid. It was obviously bittersweet because we lost but, on a personal note, it was a big achievement for me. The next step is to score again and help the team get a positive result, hopefully in front of fans at Oakwell.”
As 2020 draws to a close, Palmer reflects on a year which has brought his first appearances for Barnsley after five years with the club following his release by Manchester City. He said: “It has been like a whirlwind with everything going on around the world but with me having a lot of achievements in my career like my debut for Barnsley and my first goal. I have learned a lot and I will only learn more and strive for bigger things.
“My focus is to keep going, each day is a learning day.”