ROMAL Palmer admits ‘I haven’t been the player I wanted to be’ this season and that he has struggled for confidence, but he still hopes to play a big part in Barnsley’s survival from relegation.
The 23-year-old central midfielder impressed in his first full senior campaign last season, helping the Reds reach the play-offs, but has not found the same form this time.
He has started 18 Championship games and come off the bench seven times for the last-placed side.
Palmer told the Chronicle: “Football can move in mysterious ways.
“No one expected to be in this position on the back of last year.
“I thought I started this season OK, but I haven’t been the player I wanted to be.
“That’s pretty visible for everyone to see. It’s obviously tough.
“Confidence is involved and it’s not at its highest level at the moment, and results play a factor in that.
“But you just have to stay mentally strong and keep pushing forward.
“I have learned a lot from it, maybe more than last season.
“When you’re winning everything is great and you don’t need to improve much. In a season like this, you learn the hard way and you learn more.”
Palmer excelled last season alongside then captain Alex Mowatt who moved to West Bromwich Albion in the summer.
Palmer is now the oldest of the first team central midfielders, most of whom are very inexperienced.
Asked if he has suffered from not playing alongside a more experienced midfielder, he said: “At times it has felt like we have lacked someone like that.
“I wanted to step up in my second season but having that role and responsibility can be tough at times and it might have had an impact on me. I am not going to compare myself to Alex – an amazing player who led by example.
“But we all want to step up as midfielders and leaders and help the team.”
Palmer’s contract is due to expire at the end of this season.
His agent is understood to have been in discussions with the club at various points over the last year.
Palmer, who has been at Oakwell for eight years since being released by Manchester City’s academy, said: “I will leave it up to my agent and the club.
“I will just stay in the moment and focus on helping the team stay in the league.
“I have a lot of praise and respect for Barnsley and what they’ve helped me achieve. There’s no bad blood.
“It’s a great club and I enjoy being here.”
Palmer has played under Gerhard Struber, Valerien Ismael, Markus Schopp and now Poya Asbaghi who gained his first league win as Barnsley head coach on Saturday, a 1-0 victory over QPR.
“I have nothing but praise for Poya. He’s been resilient with the results not going our way.
“He’s maintained his ideas of how he wants to play and to press.
“The win was long-awaited.
“We felt like it had been coming and it was just a matter of time.
“There were other games when we felt like we could have come away with more.
“It’s been more positive around the camp since that win and I feel like we’re going to use that as confidence and ammunition for the games ahead.
“There’s no time now to go on any more bad runs, we know what we have to do to stay in this division and we have always been focused on that.
“But that win will help us a lot.”
The last-placed Reds are six points adrift of safety but Palmer is hoping for another ‘great escape’ like the one he was involved in two years ago.
“We would like a repeat of that, but without it going to the last seconds.
“We all have in our minds what we need to do.
“I want to assure everyone that we are all fully focused on remaining in this division.”
The Reds will now look for their first away win of the season this week when they visit Coventry City tomorrow and Hull City on Tuesday.
Palmer has won 20 of his 62 Barnsley league games but only three of those victories have been in front of supporters, while he has never experienced an away win other than in behind-closed-doors games. He said: “It’s a massive week. We’ll take confidence from the QPR game and look to push forward.
“We’re not looking at the stats about away wins. But it would be really nice to get a win for the away fans who give us immense support. You dream of getting away wins and being applauded by your fans as a kid. I enjoy playing away and keeping the home fans quiet.”