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Athletic Bilbao's Yeray Alvarez looks to have beaten cancer - Ziganda

Yeray Alvarez Athletic Bilbao
Yeray Alvarez's cancer had returned in June.

Athletic Bilbao coach Jose Angel "Cuco" Ziganda has said that defender Yeray Alvarez appears to have recovered from cancer.

Yeray, 22, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2016 and after undergoing an operation he was cleared to play again. However, his cancer returned in June, forcing him to have chemotherapy this summer.

Yeray has been seen training separately at Athletic's headquarters in Lezama this week and Ziganda says he appears to have beaten the disease.

"He has responded to the treatment and we are all delighted," Ziganda said at a news conference. "It appears he has healed. This news is bigger than anything else."

The Basque outfit also confirmed that Yeray will be given the all-clear by team doctors in the coming days to return to full training.

A club statement read: "Yeray Alvarez has ended the treatment phase that was in place since June for his illness. In the coming days he will receive the all-clear to begin the stage to progressively join the team while at the same time his active surveillance programme will be planned."

Yeray made his senior debut with Athletic last September. After being diagnosed with cancer, he had the tumour removed during the Christmas break and returned to action two months later.

He started 25 times in La Liga last season while also making eight Europa League appearances. Yeray had been expected to play for Spain at this year's European Under-21 Championship but the cancer prevented him from doing so.

Athletic players have been very supportive of Yeray and shaved their heads this summer as a show of solidarity with their teammate.

Athletic midfielder Raul Garcia has hailed Yeray for the fighting spirit he has displayed.

He told AS: "Yeray is giving us a lesson in strength and values."

Mikel San Jose spoke about Yeray after the team's 2-1 home defeat to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

"This is great news for everyone," the Athletic midfielder said. "We would have loved to have dedicated a win for him but it was not to be. It's great news that he is healthy."

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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