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Premier League

Passport hitch delays Song return

Barcelona's Alex Song did not return to training with his club as expected on Wednesday, with reports in Spain saying his passport had been stolen while he was on international duty with Cameroon this week.

Song played in his country's 2-1 second leg play-off win over Cape Verde in Yaounde on Sunday, a result that saw the Indomitable Lions lose 3-2 on aggregate and fail to qualify for next year's African Nations Cup finals.

He was due back in Barcelona along with most of the club's other internationals, but Barca's official website reported that his return had been delayed.

"[Javier] Mascherano, [Lionel] Messi and Alexis [Sanchez], who played in Chile, and Song, with bureaucratic issues, have not arrived in time," the website said. "[They] are expected at Thursday afternoon's session, when Tito Vilanova will be able to count on all his resources to prepare for the visit to Deportivo on Saturday."

Widespread reports in the Spanish media said the "bureaucratic issues" involved the player's passport being stolen and said he needed to sort out a new one before he could fly back to Europe.

Song's potential absence causes a selection headache for Barca boss Vilanova because Gerard Pique has still not fully recovered from an ankle problem and is seen as more likely to return for the Champions League game at home to Celtic on Tuesday.

After the last international break in September, Vilanova left both Messi and Mascherano on the bench for Barcelona's game at Getafe, although both came on as substitutes and Messi scored a late double to seal a 4-1 win.


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