SUNDERLAND ARE in midweek Barclays Premier League action this Tuesday as they host Queens Park Rangers and Harry Redknapp in what will be the 65 year-old`s debut in the dugout for the R`s.
A 3-1 defeat at home to fellow strugglers Southampton a week ago was one defeat too many for Tony Fernandes, who fired previous boss Mark Hughes after winning just 30 points from the 102 on offer.
Redknapp was appointed within 24 hours of Hughes` departure and arrives with the remit of retaining the Hoops` Premier League survival for the second consecutive campaign.
Each of the Poplar-born boss` last three appointments have seen him take over sides marooned in the relegation zone in Southampton, Portsmouth and Spurs. This though, looks like Redknapp`s toughest test yet with the west Londoners rock-bottom of the Premier League with just four points and winless thus far this season.
An improved showing on Saturday saw Rangers lose 3-1 at Old Trafford with Redknapp in the stands, Jamie Mackie handed his new side a surprise lead before United roared back into the contest.
There is no doubting the quality available to Redknapp in certain areas of his side – Esteban Granero and Julio Cesar arriving from Real Madrid and Inter Milan during the transfer window – however the lack of depth is equally evident in other areas where the likes of Shaun Derry and Clint Hill remain important first-team figures.
Former Brazilian international Cesar, 33, is a particularly important player for the R`s, doing his bit to shore up a leaky backline.
Formerly of Flamengo and Chievo Verona before moving to the San Siro, Cesar made over 200 appearances during his time with the Nerazzurri, winning five Serie ‘A` titles, a Champions League, three Coppa Italia`s and one FIFA Club World Cup.
Cesar has also won 64 full caps for Brazil since making his debut for the Selecao in 2003, helping his country to the 2004 Copa America and the 2009 Confederations Cup.
Twenty-five year-old midfielder Granero arrives at Loftus Road after spending three years at Real Madrid, having previously turned out for the club`s ‘B` and ‘C` sides.
A silky-smooth playmaker with an eye for a defence-splitting pass, Granero also turned out for La Liga outfit Getafe on-loan before making the move permanent.
A Spanish international at U16, U17, U19, U20 and U21 level, Granero won the 2009 U21 European Championships with Spain.
On a club level, Granero won La Liga last term as well as the 2010-11 Copa del Rey at Madrid and the 2007-08 tournament with Getafe.
Up front 31 year-old former Black Cats` striker Djibril Cisse will be expected to score the goals to help keep the Hoops up, at least until January.
The former Lazio, Marseille, Liverpool, Auxerre and Panathinaikos striker made his name on these shores when he moved to Anfield in 2004 but serious injury curtailed his time on Merseyside before he returned to his native France.
During a season-long loan spell at the Stadium of Light Cisse bagged 10 league goals in 35 Barclays Premier League appearances for Roy Keane`s side.
Cisse has also represented the full French national side 41 times, scoring nine goals for les Bleus.
Redknapp has a handful of injuries to contend with; Andy Zamora and Andy Johnson both sidelined until next year, whilst Jose Bosingwa and Ji Sung Park are both expected to return in time for Tuesday`s clash.
Martin O`Neill is without Wes Brown (knee), John O`Shea (calf) and Lee Cattermole (knee).
Sunderland: Mignolet; Bardsley, Bramble, Cuellar, Rose; Larsson, Gardner, Colback, Johnson; Sessegnon; Fletcher.
Queens Park Rangers: Cesar; Dyer, Nelson, Hill, Traore; Mackie, Derry, M`Bia, Faurlin, Taarabt; Cisse.
Referee: Mr A Marriner.