Leeds United striker Davide Somma has taken a tentative step towards a return from injury by beginning light training.
The South African international, who tore cruciate knee ligaments in the summer, is engaging in running sessions at Thorp Arch after completing the early stages of his rehabilitation.
Somma has not played this season due to the injury he suffered in July but his recent progress has raised hopes of a first-team comeback during the second half of the Championship term.
He was an integral part of Simon Grayson’s squad last season, scoring 12 goals during his first year in the Championship, but the United manager was forced to rule him out of much of this campaign after sending Somma for surgery in the weeks after his setback.
Grayson said: “He’s had some good news from the specialist in the past week and he’s back doing a little bit of running. That’s great for him.
“It’s been a difficult time but he’s kept his pecker up. He’s still got a lot of work to do and there’s no timescale yet on when he’ll be back but it’s the first sign that he’s progressing forward with his injury.”
Somma rose to prominence at Elland Road last year, returning to Leeds from a successful loan at Lincoln City and breaking into Grayson’s starting line-up for the first time.
He scored twice as a substitute on his league debut against Millwall and went on to establish himself as the club’s third-highest goalscorer, eight short of Luciano Becchio and six behind Max Gradel.
But Grayson lost him to a serious knee injury during a behind-closed-doors friendly at Thorp Arch, staged in the first full week of pre-season. The severity of the damage was confirmed while Leeds were on tour in Scotland.
The recent improvement in Somma’s condition came as left-back Ben Parker returned to full training after another long spell on the sidelines.
Parker has played almost no part in either of Grayson’s two full seasons as United manager due to the succession of injuries which have hampered the progress of the club’s academy product.
The 24-year-old featured regularly after Grayson’s appointment in December of 2008 but a hamstring strain suffered on the first day of the 2009-10 campaign was the catalyst for a series of problems and operations.
Parker played four times in that season and appeared only four times last term, turning out most recently in Leeds’ 3-0 defeat to Swansea City on February 26.
Grayson, who is considering fielding him in a friendly next week, said: “Ben’s back training with us and has been for the last week. Before that he had a couple of weeks with the physios, doing a lot of running and a mini pre-season. Touch wood for Ben’s sake he’s got his body rebuilt again and he doesn’t have any more major injuries. He’s been very unfortunate but he’s back now.
“We’ve got a reserve-team game next Tuesday and we’ll see whether he plays any part in that. It might be a little bit too early but there are very positive signs for Ben in his recovery.”
Asked what Parker had been suffering from this season, Grayson said: “Everything. He’s been so unlucky and it’s been a constant case of niggles here and there – his back, his hamstring, his hip. Everything you can think of.
“But he’s seen quite a few people recently and things are looking positive. He’s shown me glimpses of what he’s capable of doing in the past but because of injury he’s not been able to get his career going. Hopefully, this is the last of his long-term injuries and he gets back on track.”