Barcelona vow to stand by Tito Vilanova as he battles cancer for second time
Barcelona have vowed to stand by coach Tito Vilanova, who is facing a second fight against cancer.
Last Updated: 20/12/12 8:50am
Vilanova had an operation to remove a tumour in his saliva glands 13 months ago but is undergoing further surgery on Thursday after suffering a relapse.
The 44-year-old Spaniard will then have six weeks of chemotherapy, with no date set for his return.
Club president Sandro Rosell expressed his "unconditional support" for Vilanova at a press conference alongside Barcelona players Carles Puyol, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Victor Valdes.
Rosell said: "Tito is strong, very strong. He's shown us that and we're convinced he'll back with us very soon.
"We want to express our unconditional support to Tito and his family.
"We thank everyone for their support. We have complete confidence in the team. The club is very strong and united, we're capable of overcoming adversity."
The Spanish press have already linked Pep Guardiola, who left Barcelona in the summer, with a return to the Nou Camp, but sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta denied any contact had been made.
"Tito is our coach and will continue to be our coach," he said. "Jordi (Roura) will be on the sidelines for Valladolid, but all the rest is pure speculation."
Zubizarreta added: "It was difficult news to hear (about Vilanova) this morning. Tito's only concern has centred on his children and his family. The only person he has not spoken of is himself."
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