Excellent news today as Tito Vilanova felt fit enough to turn up at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper this morning to begin preparing Sunday’s derby with Espanyol. The first training session of the year was for the Catalan players taking part in this evening’s game between Catalunya and Nigeria (kick off 7 pm). Victor Valdés will miss that game with an inflamed plantar fascia on his left foot but Piqué, Puyol, Bartra, Montoya, Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Sergi Roberto and Tello took part in the session, having all been called up by Johan Cruyff who is in charge of the Catalan selection.
Vilanova greeted the players before the training session and it is believed he will take this afternoon’s training session for the other players. It is obviously very early in his recovery process and he still has to go through six weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, however, it is a very positive sign that just thirteen days after his parotid gland operation he is well enough to work today while also being well enough for a game of padel tennis with his son Adriá on New Year’s Eve. The course of therapy is set to begin on Monday 7 January, the day before we receive Espanyol at Camp Nou in the first test of 2013. Hopefully, Tito can be on the bench.