Barcelona won't rush Abidal return

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Barcelona defender Eric Abidal will not be rushed back into action, according to the club's sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, after a long spell on the sidelines. 

The 33-year-old Frenchman underwent a liver transplant in April 2012, and hasn't made an appearance for the Catalans since his successful operation. 

Despite recently returning to training on Tuesday, the club insist he will not be rushed back into the team as he looks to make his comeback. 

"The aim of the process is for Abidal to play again. We don't want to rush things. We'll take things one step at a time," Zubizarreta told the official Barcelona website.

"Life has its moments and situations and it's a long and difficult road, so we always have to stand by him. We have come here together."

After spending a few days in hospital undergoing routine checks, Abidal will look to regain match fitness with his side preparing for a crucial couple of months as they continue to chase trophies in three competitions. 

Nine points clear at the top of La Liga, the next few weeks see Barcelona take on Real Madrid in the semi-final of the Copa del Rey with the teams locked at one goal apiece after the first leg, as well as a Champions League double header with AC Milan in the last 16 of the competition. 

The former Lyon man joined the Nou Camp in 2007 in a deal worth £10million, but with his contract set to expire in the summer, it remains to be seen what his future holds.

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