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Barcelona's Aleix Vidal returns to training following ankle injury

Barcelona full-back Aleix Vidal has returned to training two months earlier than expected ahead of Saturday's Copa del Rey final against Alaves.

Vidal, 27, dislocated his right ankle in a league match against Alaves in February and had to have an operation in Vitoria before being able to return to Barcelona.

The club confirmed at the time that he was expected to be out for five months, effectively ending his season.

However, the former Sevilla player is ahead of schedule on his recovery and has been training on his own for the last few weeks.

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On Wednesday, as Barca's players returned from two days off having missed out on the league title to Real Madrid, Vidal was then able to take part in full training for the first time since injuring his ankle.

It's unlikely he will be able to feature against Alaves at the Vicente Calderon this weekend but Luis Enrique will not rush into making a decision either way.

In normal circumstances there would be no decision to make, but with first-choice right-back Sergi Roberto suspended, Barca have no natural replacement.

Vidal's injury came just when he had begun to feature in Luis Enrique's side on a regular basis for the first time since joining the club in 2015.

Impressive performances in the Champions League and the Copa del Rey saw him regain his place in the team following months of speculation about his future.

Aleix Vidal
Aleix Vidal has given Barcelona a boost ahead of the Copa del Rey final against Alaves.

Since the injury, though, he has once again been the focus of rumours about a move away from Camp Nou, with reports this week suggesting AC Milan are among the clubs interested in him.

Barca will not make any decisions on players until after the Copa del Rey final, though, with the new manager set to have the final say on any outgoings.

President Josep Maria Bartomeu has confirmed Luis Enrique's successor will be named on May 29 and Ernesto Valverde is the clear favourite to take over.

Athletic Bilbao confirmed Valverde will not renew his contract with the club, but speaking on Wednesday the 53-year-old said he couldn't confirm Barca's interest.

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.

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