LIAM Palmer’s nan Jean never got the chance to see her grandson represent the nation of her birth in person. So the Sheffield Wednesday full back’s mum, dad, wife and kids were determined to arrange the next best thing.

They made sure that a photograph of the 28-year-old’s late grandparent, who hails from Carluke in Lanarkshire, was present at Hampden Park as they watched him in action for the first time during the 6-0 rout of San Marino.

Say what you like about the willingness of certain players to put themselves through the pain barrier for Scotland in an era where footballers are millionaire assets of huge global businesses but there is no questioning the commitment of this son of Worksop.


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Full international recognition has come late for a man who has been faithfully traipsing north of the border to pull on the dark blue jersey for seven years now since first being called up for duty for the Under-19s.

“I qualify for Scotland through my mum's mum and she's not around anymore,” revealed Palmer. “But my mum came up to the last game with my dad and my wife and my kids.

“She brought a picture of my nan up with her - that was the first time my mum had been up for a while - so for the family it is a proud moment whenever I get the chance to step out.

“From Under 19s to 21s, I always say I am forever grateful because at the time I wasn't playing week in week out, I was trying to find my way into the team and it gave me a great platform to come away and play with lads my age who were at the top of their game.”

The suspicion – at least partially backed up by the stats – is that players at English-based clubs in particular are either fearful of the ramifications of leaving on international duty or being actively discouraged from making themselves available. Palmer insists that couldn’t be further from the case under Garry Monk at Hillsborough.

“I can only speak for myself but that’s not the case,” said Palmer. “You play for yourself, your family and your country. You’ve got pride and standards that drive you.

“My manager always wishes me well before I leave,” he added. “What I would say is it’s a stage of the season when there are a lot of games in a short space of time and you can get niggles that take a bit of time to be right. It’s not just the Scottish boys who have got knocks and can’t make it. You see it with other countries. If you’ve got an injury you need to get it right, it’s as simple as that.”

It wouldn’t be right to sit down with Palmer and not discuss the thorny topic of his clubmate Steven Fletcher, a 32-year-old striker who has five goals in 16 games this season in the Championship and starts every week, but hasn’t played for his country since the 3-2 win against Israel which booked our Euro 2020 play-off spot.


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The official explanation for this is the fact he is managing an ongoing injury issue - and would have to make the first step if he wanted to be considered again. Palmer understands his team-mate’s predicament but is working away in the background in the hope that he could return to the Scotland fold for the third time ahead of the March play-offs.

“With Fletch, he has got to that age now where he is trying to look after his body and prolong his club career as long as possible,” said Palmer. “He has been on the international scene for a number of years but with the demands put on him with the team [Sheffield Wednesday] at the moment he is obviously a main focal point, everything goes through him. He comes off the pitch with stitches, bleeding, nearly every single game after aerial battles and things.

“He works tirelessly on his own sometimes, feeding off scraps, chasing things that don't come, so it is demanding. That is someone who is giving his all week in week out and he has decided that coming away isn't going to help him prolong his club career.

“I have given him a few digs about coming back, I said that the last time. But it is down to him, and his sort of decision-making process. Nothing I am going to say is going to change his mind.

“He knows all the boys here, he follows the lads, and Scottish football - he is a big Celtic fan. He is always asking 'how is so and so doing'.

“Could he answer the call in March? It is hard to say, he loves football, he loves playing. So you would never say never.”


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Perhaps it is little wonder if the extended Palmer clan were so keen to see him in person playing for his country. Having made his debut in the calamitous 3-0 defeat in Kazakhstan, the player feared his long-awaited international debut might be a one-off deal. Having made the most of his second life with Scotland, few are more motivated for a revenge mission next midweek than Palmer.

“That is something I was keen not to happen,” he said. “For me, all I can do is try to play well consistently for my club, and if Reidy or the gaffer come down, try my best to put in a good performance. We’ll certainly know not to underestimate them now,” Palmer added. “They pose a threat on the counter attack in particular.”