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Chapecoense's Alan Ruschel returns to action in friendly following plane crash

Alan Ruschel Chapecoense
Alan Ruschel was one of the few players to survive the Chapecoense plane crash.

Chapecoense air tragedy survivor Alan Ruschel played his first match since the accident last year, seeing 40 minutes of second-half action in a friendly against Ypiranga.

Nineteen of Chapecoense's squad died in November after a plane crashed into the Colombian hillside ahead of the club's first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional in Medellin.

Ruschel said he was happy to be back on the pitch 239 days later and is optimistic that he might see action when Chapecoense face Barcelona on Aug. 7 for the Joan Gamper Trophy.

"I had butterflies in my stomach, but I am ready to return," Ruschel said after the match.

Wednesday's match ended in a 1-1 draw and Ruschel was joined on the bench by the two other players who survived the crash, Jakson Follman and Helio Neto.

Follman, who had a leg amputated after the crash, is currently part of the coaching staff, while Neto has been training but has not yet returned to action.

Neto said his return has been delayed for health reasons.

"I will return in 2018," he said. "I am like an old car, I have problems everywhere. I had gall bladder surgery and next I will have knee surgery."

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