Tito Vilanova has returned to work at the training facilities in Barcelona this morning, according to The Guardian.
Vilanova was spotted at the Ciutat Esportiva, Barcelona’s training ground, just 13 days after undergoing surgery following a resurgence of his parotid gland cancer (ESPN) for which he had already been treated in November 2011. Vilanova will surely be preparing this weekend’s local derby against Espanyol.
If Vilanova manages to recover well enough to sit on the bench against Espanyol it would mean that his No. 2, Jordi Roura, will have only needed to replace Vilanova for one official match, the 3-1 win over Valladolid on Dec. 22.
This rapid recovery will come as very good news for all Barcelona and football fans in general, as he returns to lead on his record-breaking team.
Reports have emerged in the weeks following his operation that Vilanova’s treatment was being successfully carried out. Most recently, Adrià Vilanova, the manager's son, posted an image of himself alongside his father playing paddle on New Year’s eve, a sign that his recovery was going forward quickly and well (Marca).
This morning’s training session is the first the Barcelona team have had since the seasonal break started just over a week ago and counted with all the Catalan players who will be playing against Nigeria in a friendly this afternoon, according to Football.co.uk.
These were Carles Puyol, Gerard Piqué, Martín Montoya, Jordi Alba, Marc Bartra, Xavi Hernández, Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto and Cristian Tello. They will presumably all be involved in the game against the African side in a match that will serve as a farewell for Catalonia coach Johan Cruyff, who will be leading the team for the last time.
Barcelona players in the past have regularly chosen to represent Catalonia and add a few matches a year to their already intense schedule despite the team not being officially recognized by FIFA. Wednesday’s match should be no exception, especially considering it will be the Dutch Barcelona legend’s last game in charge.
The afternoon training session will count with the rest of the Barcelona squad who have all put an end to their Christmas holidays.