MADRID, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- FC Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova led his side's evening training session Wednesday just 13 days after undergoing a cancer operation.
The world of football was shocked a fortnight ago when it was confirmed that Vilanova had suffered a relapse on the cancer in his parotid gland, which is the largest of the saliva glands, following a previous operation on November 20, 2011.
He underwent a new operation on December 20 and was allowed home a couple of days later.
Last week saw Barcelona president Sandro Rosell inform reporters that the coach would return to work with his players " within 15 or 20 days," but a photo of Vilanova playing padel (a cross between tennis and squash) with his son on New Year's Eve raised hopes that his recovery was proceeding well.
Vilanova appeared at Barca's training ground earlier in the day and although he did not take the morning session, he directed the afternoon work with the squad, which included Eric Abidal, who is back working with the rest of the team after undergoing a liver transplant as a result of the tumor he had removed in 2011.
Everything points to Vilanova being able to take his place in the Barca dugout for Sunday's local derby against Espanyol, the day before he is due to begin a course of chemotherapy on Monday.
Meanwhile the chain of stores 'World Soccer Shop' confirmed Barcelona's enormous popularity with fans all over the world by announcing that the club's official shirt is the best selling replica of all teams in the world.
The Barca shirt outsold Manchester United and Chelsea, who were second and third, the Spanish national team which was fourth and bitter rivals, Real Madrid's replica was down in sixth place.