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Feb 21, 2013

Abidal declared fit to play after year out

Barcelona defender Eric Abidal has been given the all-clear to return to first-team action after a year on the sidelines with a liver transplant.

• Corrigan: Barca's Alba issues
• Blog: Camp Nou awaits after loss

France international Abidal, 33, underwent an operation in April 2012, and has not played since February of that year.

The procedure was the second time the 33-year-old has been absent since a tumour was first discovered in early 2011.

Back then, the full-back made a miraculously swift recovery in order to return and start that season's Champions League final, and he lifted the trophy along with club captain Carles Puyol following that 3-1 win over Manchester United at Wembley.

A post on the club's official website said: "It has been a long road to recovery for Abidal ever since [the operation]. In early October, he went with club physio Emili Ricart to spend several days in the Catalan mountains at Vall d'Aran, where he started following a specific training programme. Two months later, on December 19, he was able to train with the rest of the squad."

Barca midfielder Xavi, speaking after his side's 2-0 Champions League defeat at AC Milan, said that his friend and team-mate returning to action was great news.

"That is the best news of the whole year," he said. "We have seen him training in recent days and, apart from results, that is the big news of the year for Barca."

David Villa, who missed Barca's trip to San Siro due to his recent stomach problems, was also training on Thursday morning, and is in contention for a place in the side for Saturday evening's Primera Division clash with Sevilla at the Camp Nou, but Adriano Correia remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.

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