Sheffield Wednesday: Gray keeps on top of job

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Managers and players will often say that they are looking no further than the next game.

But Stuart Gray is also permitting himself a glance towards next week as he gets set to lead the Owls at Watford tomorrow.

The caretaker boss says he has been told by Milan Mandaric that he is in charge for the foreseeable future.

Gray anticipates that a good result at Vicarage Road can keep him in the job for the visits of Wigan next Wednesday and Bournemouth three days later.

He said. “I’m in charge for the next game, then we take it from there, The chairman has been up to the training ground, with Paul Aldridge (vice-chairman).- we had a quick five-minute chat.

“He just wants to know the injury front. It’s nice for him to show his face; the players can get to see him; he mingles around the players.

“I’ve had several chats with him and he’s said carry on for the foreseeable future.”

Gray of course wants the job on a longer-term basis but is happy to continue staking his claim while the chairman ponders all his options, in no rush to make an appointment.

Added Gray: “I think after the Leicester game and after the Forest game people might have thought there’d be somebody in, but at the moment there’s nobody in, so I carry on until I’m told different.”

He believes he remains in the frame: “I think so, because I’m doing a job. I’m disappointed we didn’t get anything against Forest. I thought we deserved a draw. I think perhaps the intensity of the Leicester game caught up with one or two. One lapse cost us, and Forest have players who have played in the Premier League and can hurt you.

“If you’d said to me before the Leicester game ‘would you take a draw?’, I might have done; the same with the Forest game - two quality teams. We ended up getting three points, yet we are talking about being disappointed because we did not get anything against Forest.”

Gray was asked whether he thought he would be in charge for the games against Wigan, next Wednesday, and Bournemouth a week tomorrow.

It was perhaps a little tongue in cheek, but also a sign of confidence, when he replied: “Yes, because we’ll get a decent result at Watford. That’s how I’m planning the team.

“It’s a great set-up here, a good atmosphere and good team spirit. We need to take that into these games.

“All I ask from the players is 100 per cent - so if you fail it’s on ability not on application.

“I’m probably a hard task-master because I put the pressure on the players to deliver. On Saturday we were playing a team who’ve gone fourth in the Championship and I don’t think there was much difference between the teams.”

Gray must also plan without several players: David Prutton is now out for three months after surgery on his problem ankle; Lewis Buxton (groin) is sidelined for three to four weeks, Michail Antonio (knee) for at least another fortnight.

Giles Coke (hamstring) is given only an outside chance of being fit for next week’s games.

Says Gray: ““You’re having to put certain players in cotton wool and get them going again. I’m pleased we’ve got the extra day of rest before the Wigan game on Wednesday - more often than not we play on Tuesday. I’ll ask the players with knocks and strains to go again. The treatment room is far too full for my, the chairman’s and the fans’ liking.”

“We don’t look like we’re going to have anybody back for the Bournemouth and Wigan games. It’s just asking the players to keep playing with the same honesty and intensity.

“Their recovery has got to be good. We’re looking at what we do in training and the amount if time we spend on the training pitch.”

“We’ve got Glenn Loovens, and Kieran Lee; they’ve steadied the ship, done a good job. Jacques Maghoma has come in and looked like the player we knew in pre-season, before he got injured. he’s now back to the intensity and match fitness that’s required.

“The only problem now is that they haven’t had a proper pre-season; they might just level off a bit or get a slight strain; that’s the worry at the moment.”