David Gray admits he is facing a “very difficult” time at Hibernian after stepping in again as caretaker boss.
Lee Johnson was sacked by the Leith club on Sunday after beginning the cinch Premiership campaign with three consecutive defeats.
Johnson’s departure along with coaches Jamie McAllister and Adam Owen came ahead of Thursday’s Europa Conference League play-off second leg against Aston Villa, with Hibs 5-0 down from the first game and Gray was asked to take over duties for the “immediate future”.
The Hibs coach previously stepped in on a temporary basis following the exit of Jack Ross in December 2021 and Shaun Maloney in April 2022.
Speaking at Villa Park, he told HibsTV about managing the last few days, saying: “It’s very difficult because unfortunately I’ve been here twice before, this is the third time this has happened. So very, very tough time for everyone.
“There’s three people have lost a job. So first and foremost, it’s not nice.
“I know managers sign up for that responsibility, but it’s very much a collective at times as well.
“So it’s a time to reflect, it’s hard but at the same time there is two games to prepare for between now and the weekend so there’s not much time to think about anything other than trying to prepare the team as well as we can.
“It has been a difficult time but there’s no excuses. It’s a fantastic opportunity to play against a great side in a fantastic stadium. So I don’t think any of the boys will be feeling tired or have any excuses.
“It’s a great chance to hopefully put on the best performance they can.
“I think the most important thing is the players recognise that they have earned the right to be here. I know the performance and result in the first leg didn’t go the way we wanted it to go.
“So they’ve got an opportunity to play in a fantastic stadium against a great side who play at the highest level every week.
“So they can test themselves against the very best but also give a better account of themselves and enjoy the occasion.”
Gray revealed that veteran goalkeeper David Marshall, who came off in the weekend defeat by Livingston with a knock, will be given every chance to be fit.
He said: “Marsh obviously took a bit of a sore one against Livingston, he had to come off with that.
“He is feeling a lot better with it. We’re not exactly sure but we’re going to give that one as long as we can.
“It’s entirely up to him, he is an experienced player, we’ll give him the decision right up to the very last minute and if he doesn’t make it we have Max (Maksymilian Boruc) who can step in there.”