The Owls caretaker manager takes charge for the New Year’s Day visit of the Seasiders knowing an impressive display and three points could clinch him the job on a full-time basis.
Former Southampton manager Gray has won two, drawn two, and lost twice in his six games in charge so far since Dave Jones was sacked but, crucially, has lost two out of his three Hillsborough games.
Chairman Milan Mandaric has revealed he plans to make a decision on Gray’s future following tomorrow’s Championship game and the FA Cup trip to Macclesfield Town.
“We have given time to Stuart and there is another one or two games left on that so-called probation before we make the decision – should we keep Stuart as the manager or bring in a new manager,” said Mandaric.
“If we had big problems while Stuart was in charge, that decision would have been accelerated and be sooner.
“But I think he has done a pretty good job up to this point; whether he is going to stay as a manager that’s a different subject. That decision will be made in one week’s time. If it’s not going to be Stuart, then we need to make sure that the person who comes in can do better than him.”
Striker Connor Wickham and defender Roger Johnson play the final games of their loan spells tomorrow, while the Owls are in talks with free agent Glenn Loovens after his month’s deal ran out.
Seyi Olofinjana has also left the club after his short-term deal expired.
“We need to secure the future of the players who I think we really need. Glenn and Roger are probably the best defenders in the league,” Mandaric said.
“Hopefully we can keep Connor, and we are talking to Sunderland on a daily basis, but if we can’t we will have to bring someone else in because we need a goalscorer.
“There is money needed, but I am here and the club will go forward. We need to get out of this situation where we are in the table.”
The Owls are currently third-from-bottom in the Championship