Puyol: Barca will not rush Villa back

Barcelona striker David Villa has been given the all-clear by medical staff after recovering from a broken leg sustained in December, the La Liga club said on Tuesday.

Villa, Spain's all-time leading scorer who joined Barca from Valencia two years ago, fractured his left leg at the Club World Cup and has not played since.

The 30-year-old missed Spain's triumphant Euro 2012 campaign but has already returned to training with his club team-mates for the start of La Liga on the weekend of Aug. 18-19.

Club doctor Ramon Cugat said Villa was not quite ready to return to competitive action and still needed physiotherapy to get back to full fitness.

"David Villa is no longer in the hands of the doctors, he is now in the hands of the rehabilitators," Cugat said on Barca's website.

Captain Carles Puyol, who has himself just returned to training after knee surgery, told an earlier news conference the club would not rush Villa back before he is ready.

"He seems in good shape, full of desire, hope and intensity," Puyol said.

"What happens is that with such a long-term injury the most important thing is not to rush," he added.

Puyol, who was 34 in April, was also asked about his Barca future given that his contract expires at the end of this season. The defender said he had held talks with sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta about an extension.

"I spoke to him the other day and the issue won't be very complicated," Puyol said.

"I am excited about continuing my playing career and if the club wants me I'll stay here."

Barca play friendlies against Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Dinamo Bucharest before hosting Real Sociedad in their opening La Liga game.