All change in the New Year at Owls with talks planned over loan duo, with Gray given chance to stake his claim for job

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Chairman Milan Mandaric has issued his own New Year message to Sheffield Wednesday supporters - promising them that better times lay ahead on 2014.

The Owls chief also revealed that Connor Wickham’s loan spell has been extended after daily talks with Sunderland - but did admit that caretaker manager Stuart Gray did have other options, if Wickham was forced to return to the Stadium of Light.

“The New Year is a chance to move forward,” Mandaric said, “but, more importantly, I’d like to wish all our supporters a Happy New Year and thank them for their support.

“We have all experienced an unhappy first half of the season, but we are all in it together and I will do everything humanely possible to get us out of this situation and back on an even base.

“I can only do that with the fans’ support and trust, and that means a lot to me.

“I only hope it means a lot to them, that we try to do things the right way - for them, and for their club.”

Sunderland loanee Connor Wickham had scored six in eight appearances before Wednesday’s New Year’s Day clash with Blackpool.

And although Gus Poyet’s side are currently in relegation trouble in the Premier League, Wickham’s spell at Hillsborough has been extended until after Wednesday’s clash with Millwall later this month.

Another area of priority was to secure the future of centre back pair Glenn Loovens and Roger Johnson. Loovens has extended his deal until the end of the season - and Mandaric hopes to keep Wolves loanee Johnson for the same period.

“Our priority is to secure the pair - who I believe are the two best defenders in our league - until the end of the season,” Mandaric said.

“The key thing is to get out of the situation we find ourselves in, in the table.

“It started to go wrong at the start of the season so we needed to turn it around, and the signs are that the players are starting to gel under Stuart.”

Gray’s own future could become clearer before this weekend’s FA Cup tie at Macclesfield, with Mandaric pinpointing the Blackpool fixture as a key one.

Speaking earlier in the week, Mandaric added: “There are no changes from our plan to give Stuart a fair chance.

“We still have one or two games left of his probation period, before we decide whether to keep Stuart or bring someone else in. But he’s done a good job and he’s an excellent coach.

“I speak to Stuart more than once every day, and he is very keen to make a success of the role and continue to be a part of Sheffield Wednesday.”