SIMON GRAYSON has been accused of not knowing what his best starting line-up is after his the first few months in the job.

It has been a stick to beat him with during a run of just one win from nine matches in the Championship, even though injuries to players have played a key part in the constant tinkering he has carried out.

There were signs of positivity on Saturday when Sunderland battled to earn a point at Grayson’s former club Preston, where he effectively went back to basics and played with two banks of four in a 4-4-2 system.

Given the trouble Sunderland are in already under him, playing a basic formation everyone is comfortable with is probably a good idea. He has, though, tried numerous things already, including three at the back which is when they have looked at their most vulnerable.

Earlier today Paul Lambert, the former Norwich and Aston Villa boss linked with the Sunderland job in the summer, suggested that Grayson will be experiencing “things there he’s not seen before”.

Given the relatively successful periods he had in charge of Preston, Leeds and Huddersfield, it is easy to concur with Lambert. This challenge is unlike any Grayson has faced before, even if he did have Ken Bates’ controversial ownership to cope with at Elland Road.

Grayson, who has always been keen to avoid making injuries and absentees an excuse for poor performances and results, insists he does have an idea in mind as to what his best team would be, but getting the opportunity to field it is the biggest issue.

But, with the transfer window closed, what would Grayson’s ‘best team’ be? Here’s chief football writer Paul Fraser’s take on how Sunderland should line up if everyone was available against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday week.

SUNDERLAND (4-4-1-1)

Goalkeeper - Jason Steele

It’s a tough choice between Steele and Robbin Ruiter. Neither have been brilliant enough to demand a starting spot, but both have shown glimpses of what they could offer.

Right-back – Billy Jones

He might not be the most fashionable defender around, but his work-rate can never be questioned and he rarely lets anyone down.

Centre-back - Lamine Kone

Tough call this one. Many would disagree and think he doesn’t deserve to start, but he is the best defender at the club if he can get his head on.

Centre-back - Ty Browning

Has looked pretty decent in patches since his arrival from Everton on loan, even if he looks better in the middle rather than as a three.

Left-back - Bryan Oviedo

The Costa Rican started the season with an injury but can cause problems when he gets down the line and will improve with fitness.

Right-midfield – Duncan Watmore

Perhaps Grayson sees him as a more central forward but evidence last season suggested he is better on the wing. His energy suits the flanks.

Centre-midfield - Lee Cattermole

He is Sunderland’s one true leader on the pitch and the team plays much better when he is on his game, although could sit deeper in this system.

Centre-midfield – Didier Ndong

The challenge is to get the Gabon international performing like he did at Preston again, and again.

Left-midfield – Aiden McGeady

The Irishman scored a brilliant goal at Preston and can pop up anywhere, but start with him down his preferred left and adjust from there.

Support striker – Jonny Williams

He loves to create and make things happen so would suit the No 10 role, but playing a 4-4-1-1 would give him licence to join the striker more often anyway.

Striker - Lewis Grabban

Due back to action after the international break and he has looked Sunderland’s most dangerous striker in front of goal, despite the challenge from James Vaughan.

Subs (from): McManaman, McNair, Matthews, Galloway, O’Shea, Love, Wilson, Rodwell, Gibson, Honeyman, Gooch, Vaughan, Maja, Asoro, Ruiter (gk).