VIDEO: ‘We got away with one’, says Owls star

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Wednesday had sunk so low when they were struggling for results and Dave Jones was manager that confidence had all but vanished and there was bickering in the squad, Chris Kirkland has revealed.

But the former England keeper says that Stuart Gray has done a “magnificent” job in transforming the club.

Sheffield Wednesday v Middlesborough......Owls boss Stuart Gray

Sheffield Wednesday v Middlesborough......Owls boss Stuart Gray

Kirkland also praised chairman Milan Mandaric and vice-chairman Paul Aldridge for appointing Gray as boss in preference to other candidates.

The Owls have climbed to 12 points above the relegation zone after their 1-0 win against Middlesbrough.

Kirkland says: “All the credit’s got to go to Stu. The lads love his methods, they want to play for him.

“He’s done a magnificent job in lifting this club. When he took over we were in a bad situation. Confidence was gone, very low. There was bickering in the squad, as you do when you go on a losing run, but Stu sorted it all out straight away as soon as he was appointed,

“The lads have got enormous respect for him. He’s a gentleman, and he treats everyone with respect, and he expects to the lads to treat him the same. I can’t speak highly enough of the job he’s done. and fair play to the chairman and Paul Aldridge for giving him the job.

“I’m sure they had a lot of outside influences saying ‘give this person the job’ but they’ve stuck with Stu and hopefully it can pay off.”

Caolan Lavery is in the Northern Ireland Under 21 squad to face Italy in Lurgan on Wednesday, when Oguchi Onyewu will be with the USA for their match against Ukraine in Cyprus.

The pair were among players praised by Gray for their contributions towards Saturday’s win.

He said: “I’m pleased for Guchi. I thought he doninated (Danny) Graham at times, He looked calm and collected on the ball. It will give him a lot of confidence, and he’s wanting to go to the World Cup with America.”

Joe Mattock is an early doubt for Saturday’s match at Yeovil after going off with a thigh problem. Damian Martinez was ruled out by a shoulder injury.

Kirkland welcomed the clean sheet: “Brilliant,” he said. “Stu has organised us well. Glenn Loovens and Guch have got a good partnership. They’re very calm.

“Liam Palmer for me has been our player of the season; he’s been superb. Joe Mattock unfortunately has got an injury, but I don’t think Reda’s too far away.”