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Abidal to undergo checks

Barcelona defender Eric Abidal is to spend at least three days in hospital to undergo checks on the progress which has been made since he underwent a liver transplant operation in April 2012.

• Blog: Wanted: Quality goalkeeper

The news was announced via a brief statement on Barcelona's website on Wednesday.

"Eric Abidal will spend between three and four days at Hospital Clinic in Barcelona for examinations of the development of the transplant that he underwent last April," the statement said. "By express wish of the player, the club is asking for the utmost respect for his privacy and confidentiality."

Reports in the Catalan media this week had suggested that the French international, whose last Barca appearance was on February 26, was close to a return to first team action. He had returned to full training with his Barcelona team-mates in December, news overshadowed at the time by the announcement that Barca coach Tito Vilanova had again fallen ill.

Abidal, 33, first had liver surgery in March 2011, recovering remarkably quickly to play in his side's Champions League final win over Manchester United that May and lift the trophy along with club captain Carles Puyol afterwards.

The former Lyon player's current contract runs until June 2013. Barca board spokesperson Toni Freixa said last month that the club would support him in whatever he wishes to do.

"The club wants what Abidal wants," Freixa said. "He has made an extraordinary effort, and he is happy to have done so because he can live a satisfactory life again. Whether he stays will depend on what he himself decides, and Barca will always be there at his side."

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