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Owls set for shades of Gray as Stuart gets chance to stake claim for job, with McLeish and Brown waiting in the wings

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Caretaker Stuart Gray will strengthen his claims for the permanent Sheffield Wednesday manager’s job if he masterminds an Owls victory at Watford this weekend.

Gray was placed in temporary charge after the dismissal of Dave Jones earlier this month and, together with Academy coach Lee Bullen, has overseen an impressive win over then-Championship leaders Leicester, and a 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest last weekend.

Owls chairman Milan Mandaric, however, is impressed with how Gray and Bullen have galvanised a struggling side, and will give the former Southampton boss a chance to stake his claim for the Hillsborough post.

“We have not stopped looking for a manager completely, but we are not pushing for anyone,” Mandaric said.

“Stuart has shown signs of turning things around, and I think he deserves a chance before we start to be more aggressive and bring someone in.

“But if we do need to go for a new manager, that will happen soon.”

The Telegraph understands that Phil Brown, who led Hull City to promotion from this division in 2008, is one name in Mandaric’s thoughts.

The 54-year-old has led Southend to third in League Two, a point behind league leaders Oxford.

Graham Coughlan, the former Owls captain, is Brown’s first-team coach at Roots Hall - and Owls sources believe Brown could be approached if Mandaric decides against giving Gray the full-time role.

Other names linked with the job include Stuart Pearce, who remains the odds-on favourite at the bookmakers, and Doncaster Rovers boss Paul Dickov.

Alex McLeish, who is without a club after walking out on Nottingham Forest after just 40 days earlier this year, has also been considered.

The Owls, without an away win all season, travel to an out-of-sorts Watford side who haven’t won in eight.

Gianfranco Zola’s side have slipped to twelfth in the Championship table, but were handed a boost ahead of the Owls clash with the return of winger Ikechi Anya.

n Wednesday’s U18s, meanwhile, will discover today who they face in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup.

The Young Owls reached the fourth-round stage after a 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over Crystal Palace on Tuesday.

The game had earlier finished 4-4, with Jack Stobbs, Jack Taylor, Brad Beatson and Charlie Daws finding the net for Wednesday.

Beatson then scored the decisive penalty, to send Wednesday through.

Striker Jacob Berkeley-Aygepong scored a hat-trick for the Eagles.

 

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