It’s quite hard to think of just three questions that need answering ahead of Sunderland’s return to action.

For after all the optimism that came with the appointment of Simon Grayson over the summer, the former Preston North End boss has enjoyed a fairly torrid start to his tenure.

The Black Cats currently sit second bottom of the Championship ahead of Saturday’s visit of Queens Park Rangers and, for the fans at least, there seems to be more questions than answers circling around the Stadium of Light.

An international break seemed to come at the right time for Grayson’s men, who are winless in their last nine league outings, and the visit of QPR could be a perfect opportunity to bounce back.

We’ve picked out three key questions that we believe need answering when Ian Holloway’s men visit Wearside this weekend:

1. Can Sunderland clinch a first home win in 10 months?

By the time QPR roll into town, it will have been almost ten months since the Black Cats last won at the Stadium of Light.

Their last triumph on home soil came against Watford on December 17 of last year, and Grayson will be no doubt aware that an improvement in home form has to be a priority.

Some success at home could be the foundation for a run of form that pulls Sunderland away from the foot of the Championship table.

But more than that, it will undoubtedly get the supporters back on side – attendances have been falling this year but some positive home performances, and results, could see the fans come flocking back.

A full Stadium of Light would be an intimidating atmosphere for any Championship side and could well have a knock-on effect in terms of helping results.

All successful sides build from solid home form – and Sunderland need to start doing that sooner rather than later.

2. Will the Black Cats’ international players be ready for action?

While the international break will have given some players the opportunity to recover from the rigours of the Championship schedule, for others the break will have been far less relaxing.

Six of the Black Cats’ first team squad have been absent on international duty and concerns could be raised over whether all of them will be ready to return to action.

Bryan Oviedo is perhaps the major concern with his Costa Rica side set to play Panama this evening – if the full-back features he may not be risked against the R’s this weekend.

Didier Ndong could be another earmarked for a rest, although Grayson will surely be keen to start the all-action midfield if he’s available.

The likes of John O’Shea, Lamine Kone, Aiden McGeady and Jonny Williams didn’t feature for their respective nations – so expect them to be fit and raring to go on Saturday.

3. What will Grayson do about his keeper conundrum? 

It’s an area which has caused plenty of debate among Sunderland fans this season, and one which doesn’t seem to have yet come to a conclusion.

Grayson has shown faith in Jason Steele between the sticks so far this season, but the former Middlesbrough man has looked shaky to say the least.

Steele’s performance in the 5-2 defeat at Ipswich was symbolic of a goalkeeper short of confidence, but he retained his place for the trip to Preston where he conceded a further two.

So could the time be right to recall Robin Ruiter? The Dutchman has conceded goals, but has certainly looked far more assured than Steele so far this campaign.

With the third worst defensive record in the Championship, Grayson needs his keeper conundrum to come to a conclusion – and quickly.