Plymouth Argyle manager Ryan Lowe has conceded that the Pilgrims are unlikely to obtain Alex Palmer on loan again next season but has given his strong backing to young goalkeeper Michael Cooper.
West Brom loanee Palmer helped the Devon club to promotion from League Two this season and Lowe reckons that the 23-year-old will either be kept by the Baggies or loaned to a higher-placed team than Plymouth.
The Pilgrims boss told Plymouth Herald: “I had a brief chat with Alex. He has been different class and probably the best goalkeeper in League Two. If I’m West Brom, he ain’t coming back and we have got to be aware of that. We have got to respect that.
“Alex could find himself in West Brom’s first team squad next season, whether that’s second choice, third choice, being around it. I think he’s back training with them. If he goes out on loan again, would he bypass Plymouth Argyle? Probably, yeah.
“But I think we have got a new Alex Palmer waiting in the wings in Michael Cooper, who will get the opportunity next season to be the best he can be…The kid will get a chance next season and then it’s over to him. Can he be another Alex Palmer in League One? Yeah, 100 per cent.”
Palmer will be a hard act to follow at Home Park, having performed excellently during his loan spell in 2019/20. The goalkeeper shipped only 42 goals in 41 games in total for Plymouth (1.02 per game) and kept 15 clean sheets (36.59% of games), with the Pilgrims having the joint-third best defensive record in League Two with him between the sticks.
However, Cooper can take encouragement from the fact that Palmer excelled at that level despite only playing two Football League games prior to the season just finished. By comparison, the 20-year-old Argyle academy product has had seven senior appearances for the club, two of which came in League One, and he has managed four clean sheets in those matches (57.14% of games).
Palmer has set a high standard for his successor at Plymouth to follow and, as Lowe has suggested, West Brom may want to integrate him into their first team squad after his impressive displays in 2019/20.
Do you think Michael Cooper can go on to be as good as Alex Palmer for Plymouth?
However, Cooper’s record from the embryonic stages of his senior career suggests that he is capable of stepping up to preserve the good work of the man who kept him out of the team this season, while he can begin next term knowing that he has his manager’s firm backing.
Plymouth fans, how hard will it be to replace Palmer if he isn’t back next season? Comment below with your views!
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