GARRY MONK insists sympathy is the last thing Simon Grayson needs as the beleaguered manager surveys the wreckage of Sunderland's disastrous start to the season.

The Middlesbrough boss is confident one of his closest friends in the game will turn things round at the Stadium of Light - as long as he is given time to do so.

But he claims it would be wrong to sympathise with his fellow former Leeds United manager as the Wearsiders face the very real prospect of back-to-back relegations for the first time in their history, after winning one of their first ten Championship games this season to leave them second bottom following the humiliating 5-2 trouncing by Ipswich Town.

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"Simon is someone I know really well and he's a great guy," said Monk, whose side host the Black Cats at the start of November hoping to repeat last season's league double over their North-East neighbours, when both sides crashed out of the Premier League.

He added: "Every manager, no matter what the club, has a difficult job and we have to face up to that. I won't say I have sympathy for other managers, no manager wants sympathy - perhaps it's more empathy with the different situations we all face on a daily basis.

"Simon's the same as all of us, and there will be no-one working harder than him and no-one in a better position than him to do well. Given the right tools and the right understanding at the club, he's a proven manager and experienced guy, especially at this level."

Things have quickly turned sour since Grayson took charge at the Stadium of Light in June, and the 47-year-old's future will come under even more intense scrutiny if his side produce a repeat of their abject Portman Road surrender when they travel to face the Yorkshireman's former club Preston on Saturday.

Monk added: "I've got to know Simon over the years, I always played against his teams and then with going to Leeds like he had we've met quite a few times before that and since. I saw him over the summer when he got the Sunderland job and wished him well. He'll come through it, but he doesn't need me to tell him that."

Middlesbrough hope to bounce back from a midweek reverse of their own at home to Norwich City when they return to action at the Riverside Stadium against struggling Brentford on Saturday.

Monk reports no fresh fitness concerns from the disappointing single-goal setback to the Canaries which left Boro in mid-table approaching the quarter-way point of the campaign. However, he remains unable to put a comeback date on Rudy Gestede's return from injury. The Benin forward has missed the last six games after a minor operation to cure internal bleeding from a dead leg suffered in training at the start of the month.

The 28-year-old is stepping up his rehabilitation back at the club's Rockliffe training base, but Monk admits he is can't say with any certainty at this stage when the former Aston Villa striker will be back in contention.

Gestede has scored once in six appearances this season, and is hopeful of being available soon after the forthcoming international break. The manager added: "Rudy's progressing well. He's in the building every day amongst us now building things up, but the only thing is that we can't put a time frame or timescale on it right now because of the healing of the wound. It's a bit of an unknown on this stage.

"We don't know how long that will take to heal but as soon as it does we'll get a better idea of just how long. He's recovering really well and it should be sooner rather than later."