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Vilanova leads first practice since surgery

Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images

Tito Vilanova led Barcelona to first place in La Liga before his throat surgery.

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova led his first team practice session Wednesday since undergoing throat surgery to remove a second tumor in two years 13 days ago.

Vilanova took charge of the team's evening training session after watching assistant Jordi Roura lead the day's first practice.

The 44-year-old Vilanova is recovering after undergoing surgery on Dec. 20. He was greeted by the nine players who turned up for the first training session of 2013, including Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Busquets.

The Spanish club failed to indicate if Vilanova would return to the sidelines for Sunday's home game against crosstown rival Espanyol.

Barcelona had said that Vilanova would undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy for six weeks, during which he would try to return to his coaching duties depending on his progress.

This is the second time Vilanova has had to have surgery to remove a tumor on a saliva gland. He underwent the first operation in November 2011 when he was Pep Guardiola's assistant. He returned to the team 15 days later.

Barcelona also said goalkeeper Victor Valdes was unable to train because of a left foot injury.

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