Leeds United: Somma still part of my plans - Grayson

Simon Grayson has reassured Davide Somma that he will be called upon during the Christmas period, despite dropping down the selection order at Leeds United.

Somma has played no part in United's season for almost a month, sidelined by a combination of illness, a change in the club's formation and the return of other players from injury, but Grayson said all four of his strikers would by used to see Leeds through six matches over Christmas and New Year.

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Luciano Becchio is United's current first-choice in a system featuring only one centre-forward, and Ross McCormack and Billy Paynter were used as substitutes in Saturday's 2-1 win over Crystal Palace with Somma left on the bench.

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The 25-year-old was a revelation in the early stages of this season, scoring twice on his league debut against Millwall and six times before the end of October.

He fought his way into Leeds' starting line-up in mid September but has not featured at all since their 3-1 win over Bristol City at Elland Road last month.

Grayson revealed that an illness affecting Somma had prevented him from

using the South African international at Reading on November 27, and his decision to use McCormack and Paynter on Saturday was vindicated by the late fightback which secured a dramatic victory over Palace.

United's manager said: "He was ill when we went to Reading, which is why he wasn't in the squad of 18. Against Palace I just felt it was right for Billy and Ross to come on in front of him.

"But it's great for me to have so many options and I said when the

season started that any success we have this year will be based on the squad. We've got a busy schedule coming up so all of these players are going to get opportunities."

Somma's form at the start of the Championship term was convincing enough to earn him a new three-year contract at Elland Road, seven months after Leeds had extended by a year the initial deal he signed upon joining the club in September 2009.

His performances also caught the eye of South Africa coach Pitso Mosimane, who gave the former Perugia forward his international debut in a friendly against the USA last month.

Grayson said: "Davide had a fantastic start to the season and opportunities will come for him. But other people are going to get opportunities too."

Defender Andy O'Brien admitted competition among United's squad was increasingly fierce following the easing of the long absenteee list which plagued the club for the first three months of the season.

Paynter and McCormack have both recovered from fitness problems, and

Richard Naylor and Patrick Kisnorbo were the only senior professionals absent through injury on Saturday.

O'Brien said: "The lads not playing as much as they want are pushing those in the team."

Thomas Christiansen during Leeds United's pre-season training camp in Austria

Leeds United to head to Spanish training camp next week