Barcelona's Eric Abidal in first match since transplant surgery

Eric Abidal (right) practices with Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano.
Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

Barcelona says Eric Abidal has played his first match since receiving a liver transplant and club officials say he is almost fit enough for first-team selection.

The 33-year-old France defender played 65 minutes of a reserve team match against French second-division side Istres.

Team doctor Ricard Pruna said it was difficult for anyone to obtain medical clearance to play after such an operation, but Abidal was "gradually reaching the same level as his teammates.''

The friendly was Abidal's first game since his last appearance for Barcelona in February 2012.

Abidal had a liver tumor removed in March 2011 before doctors determined he needed a transplant almost a year ago.

Pruna said "I don't think it'll be long before he's named in the squad.''

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