Barca coach to have cancer surgery


Soccer:Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova will have surgery on his parotid gland tomorrow before undergoing six weeks of chemotherapy, the club have confirmed.

The statement confirmed a press conference with president Sandro Rosell and director of football Andoni Zubizarreta will take place later tonight.

Vilanova, who replaced Pep Guardiola this summer, has enjoyed a superb start to his tenure in the hotseat, helping Barca establish a nine-point lead at the top of the Primera Division standings after winning 15 of their opening 16 games while drawing the other.

Barca are also through to the knockout stages of the Champions League and hold a 2-0 first-leg lead over Cordoba in their Copa del Rey last-16 tie.

Surgery will definitely rule Vilanova out of Saturday’s trip to Real Valladolid, though, with his long-term future cast into doubt given tonight’s announcement.

Reports in Spain suggest assistant manager Jordi Roura will take charge of first-team affairs during Vilanova’s absence. A host of Spanish clubs and players expressed their support before tonight’s official announcement, including rivals Real Madrid.

A statement on the Madrid website read: “Real Madrid want to express their support and best wishes for the coach of FC Barcelona, Tito Vilanova, and wish him a very rapid recovery. Real Madrid offer their support to his club and to all his family.”

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