Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova will miss Thursday's domestic cup clash with Cordoba at the Camp Nou as he seeks medical advice after an operation for cancer of the salivary gland, his assistant said.
The 44-year-old coach only returned to the dugout last Sunday for Barcelona's 4-0 win over city rivals Espanyol and admitted then that he might have to step away again during his treatment.
Spanish media say he has decided to go to New York for a second opinion but there has been no confirmation of that from the club.
"Tomorrow, Tito won't be there. He had to leave for medical advice and tomorrow he won't be on the bench," assistant coach Jordi Roura told a news conference Wednesday on the eve of the King's Cup return leg against second division Cordoba.
Barcelona say Vilanova faces about six weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy following a December 20 operation on a salivary gland called the parotid. He had a similar operation a year earlier but tests showed the cancer had returned.
"There is no doubt the situation was difficult for everyone," Roura said of the coach's relapse.
Barcelona beat Cordoba 2-0 in their first encounter in the last-16 stage of the King's Cup.
The club said in an online statement they will rest Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Gerard Pique and Pedro Rodriguez for the match.
Lionel Messi is in the starting line-up, however, after travelling to Zurich for a FIFA ceremony Monday when he was awarded an unprecedented fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or as the world's best footballer for 2012.
"Although it might seem as though the qualifier is resolved, there are some very recent examples of the difficulty of this kind of match," Roura said of the Cordoba clash.