Barcelona lifted by return of Vilanova and Abidal
Eric Abidal was included in Barcelona's squad to play Celta Vigo in La Liga this weekend only a few days after coach Tito Vilanova returned following two months out receiving cancer treatment.
France international Abidal, 33, has not played since having a liver transplant last April, and was passed fit to return to training with his team mates last month.
His return is timely with fellow defenders Carles Puyol, Adriano Correia and Jordi Alba all out injured for Saturday's trip, and a Champions League quarter-final first leg away to Paris St Germain approaching next Tuesday.
"An example for everyone! Congratulations Abi!" Barca striker David Villa said on his Twitter feed.
Abidal last played for Barca in a 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid in February last year.
Vilanova will not travel to Vigo, but his assistant Jordi Roura said there was a strong possibility he could join the team in Paris.
Vilanova flew back to Barcelona on Tuesday after two months undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment in New York.
The 44-year-old had an operation to remove a tumour from his saliva glands in November 2011 and required a second round of surgery in December.
"The return of Tito means a lot. The boss is back and this is always very important," said Roura who has held the reins in Vilanova's absence.
"It's an important boost for the team," Roura told a news conference on Friday. "Between the doctors and him they have agreed it wouldn't be a good idea (to travel to Vigo).
"He has just finished receiving treatment and the seven to 10 days afterwards are very tough. We prefer to wait although he will come to training and depending on how he goes there is a good chance he could travel to Paris."
In Vigo, World Player of the Year Lionel Messi has the chance to extend his record sequence to 19 consecutive league games with a goal.
The only league team the Argentine has failed to hit the net against this season is Celta - Adriano, Alba and David Villa having grabbed the goals in the 3-1 home win on November 3.
Messi has notched 29 goals in that run of 18 matches, 42 in total in La Liga this season with 10 matches left to play, eight goals short of matching last year's record-breaking campaign.
Barca are 13 points clear at the top of the table.