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Mar 29, 2013

Tito Vilanova returns to practice

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has returned to Barcelona after ten weeks receiving treatment in the United States for a throat tumour.

Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova led his first team practice on Friday since returning from a 10-week medical stay in New York to treat a throat tumor.

Barcelona assistant coach Jordi Roura said that Vilanova would direct the session but that he would not accompany the team to Saturday's Spanish league match at Celta Vigo.

"(The return) of Tito is a progressive incorporation," Roura said. "The 10-15 days after (cancer) treatment is tough because that is when there are side effects. This afternoon he will lead the practice, but he will not travel to Vigo. If all goes well, there is a good chance he will be in Paris."

Vilanova returned home on Tuesday after receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy in a New York hospital following surgery to remove a second throat tumor in two years in late December.

Barcelona visits Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday in the Champions League quarterfinals.

It leads the Spanish league by 13 points.

Lionel Messi heads into the match on Saturday vs. Vigo on the brink of a La Liga record.

The Argentinian has scored in his last 18 consecutive league matches and, should he find the net again Saturday, would become the first man ever to score in successive games against every team in the Spanish top flight.

Eric Abidal returned to the squad for the first time since having a liver transplant last year.

The 33-year-old France defender was included in Barcelona's squad for Saturday's match.

Abidal was cleared to play last month and played a game with Barcelona's reserve team 10 days ago.

His last appearance for Barcelona's first team was on Feb. 26, 2012.

Abidal underwent surgery to remove a liver tumor in March 2011 and returned to the team at full strength before the end of that season. He then had to stop playing a second time last spring when doctors determined he needed a liver transplant.

Barcelona is currently missing injured defenders Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba, and Adriano.

Information from The Associated Press and Efe News Agency was used in this report.

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