Alex Palmer is showing all the signs of becoming the new first-choice goalkeeper at West Brom next season if Sam Johnstone moves on in the summer.
Johnstone, 27, has performed above and beyond in the Premier League this term but the former Manchester United goalkeeper’s contract expires in the summer and there has already been speculation linking him with a move away from The Hawthorns.
If West Brom are relegated, Johnstone is unlikely to stay and that could leave the Baggies in need of a new first-choice goalkeeper.
Luckily, they might already have that in 24-year-old Palmer, who has excelled while on loan at Lincoln City in League One this season.
Palmer has made 40 appearances in all competitions while on loan at Sincil Bank this term, keeping 15 clean sheets in the process.
Last month, the loaned-out Albion goalkeeper won the Papa John’s Trophy Player of the Round award for his performance in Lincoln’s EFL Trophy win over Hull City.
Palmer saved three penalties in the penalty shoot-out that was won by Michael Appleton’s side.
According to stats by Wyscout, Palmer has faced 151 shots in all competitions this season and made 108 saves. 40.7 per cent of those saves called upon Palmer’s reflexes while the goalkeeper, who’s yet to be seen play for West Brom’s first team, also boasts 75 exits, which is when he’s come off his line to claim a cross or a pass into the penalty area.
Palmer has prevented 0.89 goals on average in League One this season. This means that the Lincoln loanee has conceded fewer goals than he should have based on the quality of the chances against him.
In comparison, Johnstone has prevented -0.08, which means he’s not saved as many shots as he should have on the balance of the entire Premier League season.
While it is a sake of comparing apples and oranges due to where third-placed Lincoln find themselves in League One and 19th-placed West Brom find themselves in the Premier League, there are still some very encouraging signs about Palmer, who even assisted a goal for fellow Baggies loanee Callum Morton against Fleetwood on Tuesday night.
If Johnstone moves on in the summer, West Brom could be left with David Button as their only goalkeeper as third-choice ‘keeper Andy Lonergan’s contract expires at the end of the season.
Palmer would return to the Black Country to bolster the ranks in between the sticks but is he good enough to take the number one shirt?
We believe the 24-year-old has shown enough in his loan spells at Plymouth and Lincoln to suggest he is.
In other West Brom news, this youngster has been tipped to “take the league by storm” if the Albion sign him in the summer.