France international Eric Abidal is closing in on a first-team return having not played for Barcelona since last February.

Abidal underwent successful surgery to remove a tumour that was first spotted in early 2011.

The 33-year-old's last appearance for Barcelona came in a 2-1 defeat of Atletico Madrid on February 26 2012.  

Following the game, the Catalan giants announced that a liver transplant was necessary and last April, Abidal underwent surgery to remove the tumour.  

He has made a good recovery and looks to be edging ever-closer to a first-team return, putting himself back in contention at the Nou Camp.

With Sevilla next up for Barca, plus two El Clasicos and the return leg of the Champions League tie with AC Milan to come, Abidal's return is a timely boost to Barcelona.

Speaking in the wake of their 2-0 away defeat at AC Milan, Spanish international midfielder Xavi Hernandez was delighted that Abidal would be making his return to first-team football.

"The return of Abidal is the best news of the day and of the year. Watching him train is an example in sport and in life," he said.

"After the blow of yesterday, today there is great news for all Barca fans and for football as Abidal gets the all-clear. 

"We are all with you and be strong," he said on his Twitter account.


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