Simon Grayson admits super-sub Davide Somma has reason to bemoan his recent fortune – but insists he still has a massive part to play for Leeds United this season.
The South African international struck his ninth goal of a breakthrough campaign moments after coming on in Saturday's 2-2 draw at Portsmouth –
to rescue a point for the visitors.
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It followed his quick-fire strike after entering the fray as a late sub in the 4-0 home romp against Scunthorpe United on January 15, with the 25-year-old netting eight minutes after coming on for Sanchez Watt.
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The double goal blast has provided a welcome fillip for the Johannesburg-born forward, who has copped bench splinters for the past two-and-a-half months with his last Whites start coming in the 3-1 home victory over Bristol City on November 13.
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The success of United's 4-2-3-1 system with Luciano Becchio very much the focal point and main man up front – successfully operating in the lone striker role – has curtailed Somma's involvement after being a regular in the early part of the season. But Somma – who has struck five times in 2010-11 after coming off the bench – remains a potent weapon, according to Grayson, who was thrilled that the forward has claimed some overdue rewards in the past few weeks.
Whites boss Grayson said: "He (Somma) has been unlucky. We've changed
the system and played one up front and before that we were playing in a 4-4-2 and he got the goals that started the season off.
"He did ever so well, but that system doesn't suit him playing as a lone striker. But in the last couple of games, we've put him on and played two up front to try and get back into games or kill games off and I'm delighted he's got his goals because he's worked hard while he's been out the team and you can see the quality he's got.
"That's why we want him here and that's why we signed him on a long-term contract.
"He's a natural finisher, he covers the ground elegantly and he's got a nice touch and an eye for goal. He does it every day in training, which is why we took him on in the first place and signed him on a long-term contract."
Grayson is hopeful that defensive organiser Andy O'Brien will return to the fray for next Tuesday's testing derby clash at rejuvenated Hull City after missing Saturday's trip to former club Pompey with a minor hamstring injury - which forced him off in the 66th minute of last week's FA Cup third-round replay loss to Arsenal.
Grayson added: "We don't play until next Tuesday, so hopefully he'll respond to treatment and be available for that.
"But I was quite pleased with how Leigh Bromby came into the team (at Portsmouth) after not starting recently."