Former QPR striker John Byrne confident the Rs can beat Sunderland despite poor start

John Byrne in action for Sunderland

John Byrne in action for Sunderland - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Former QPR and Sunderland striker John Byrne believes Rangers will beat the Black Cats on Saturday despite their 4-0 defeat against Spurs.

A family holiday means Byrne will be unable to take up an invitation from the club to watch the match at Loftus Road, but he expects the Rs to claim their first win of the season.

Byrne said: “I’m gutted I can’t go - it has been a while since I was back at Loftus Road.

“I fancy QPR to win. They are coming off the back of two defeats and will be up for it.

“I thought the pace and tempo that Spurs played at was impressive. I watched the Sunderland v Man United match after and it looked like it was in slow motion compared to how Spurs played.

“I’m sure a lot of QPR fans will be disapointed but it is a long season and they have to be patient.

“They’ve made some good signings. Rio Ferdinand still looks like he has enthusiasm to play and Steven Caulker is a very good defender.”

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Byrne added: “They signed the striker [Eduardo] Vargas – he looks like he has got a bit of quality.

“They’ve taken a bit of a hit at Spurs. After making the step up from the Championship all of a sudden the reality of the Premier League has hit them.”

Byrne spent four years at QPR from 1984 to 1988 after the Hoops paid York City £100,000 for his services.

He scored 30 league goals in 126 games for the Rs before joining Le Havre and subsequently Brighton and Hove Albion, who he now commentates on.

The former Republic of Ireland international also spent a year with Sunderland, where he played a vital part in the Black Cats’ progress to the 1991-92 FA Cup final.

His record of seven FA Cup goals in eight matches included strikes in every round up to and including the semi-final.

Winger Will Buckley recently joined Sunderland from Brighton, and Byrne says his direct style could cause QPR some problems.

Byrne said: “On his day he can give any full-back a difficult game. He is a quick lad and can deliver decent quality.

“I read on Twitter a lot of positive feedback from Sunderland fans after the match against United – that he was a breath of fresh air.

“At Brighton he was a bit injury- prone and seemed to lose his way a bit last year, but he has a manager in Gus Poyet who really believes in him and he looks like he has got his spark back.”

Byrne thinks QPR have the players to combat the threat of the Black Cats and avoid relegation.

He said: “Sunderland might fancy their chances after seeing the QPR result at Spurs, but the problem with Poyet is he likes the slow build-up from the back and I think they can be exposed on the counter-attack.

“I hope QPR do well this season – I will be keeping my fingers crossed and will keep putting them in my accumulator each weekend.”

Follow me on Twitter @RobBrennan82