Barcelona announce Tito Vilanova's surgery has gone 'as expected'
Barcelona have announced Tito Vilanova's operation on his parotid gland has gone 'as expected' as the 44-year-old began a second battle with cancer.
Vilanova, who also had a tumour removed from his throat in November last year, will now start six weeks of chemotherapy.
In a statement, the club said: "Vilanova's surgical procedure has gone as expected. His clinical progress will determine how long he remains in hospital. The expected timeframe has been maintained. Tito asks for his privacy and confidentiality to be respected."
Captain Carles Puyol said the Barca players have drawn strength from Eric Abidal's return to good health as they come to terms with news of Vilanova's need for further cancer treatment. Abidal returned to training on Wednesday for the first time since he needed a liver transplant in April.
Puyol said: "You're never prepared to hear news like this, but Abidal's example gives the team strength and I'm sure Tito's case will do the same. It's not just an example to us but to the man in the street, proving that if you fight hard, everything will be fine. The best way to support him is to keep moving forward.
"It is a severe blow but we must get up and keep on playing. This team has always done that and will do so again."
Abidal's return was a significant step in his bid to continue his career, although he admitted he had been left thinking only about his ailing boss.
"I confirm to you that I have started again the collective training with the group," he wrote on his Facebook page. "I hope to come back soon on the fields, but I can't stop thinking of our coach, Tito Vilanova: I wish him and his family a lot of courage!"
Barcelona held a specifically-convened press conference on Wednesday night in which president Sandro Rosell offered Vilanova the club's unconditional support. Rosell, who was flanked by on-field leaders Puyol, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Victor Valdes, revealed assistant manager Jordi Roura would take interim charge but that he expected Vilanova to quickly return to the touchline.
The club even opened the door for Vilanova to come back during his recovery, with a statement saying his "treatment may be compatible with his work life".
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