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Abidal continues recovery with training match

The former France international played 65 minutes of a friendly against French second-division side Istres at Barca's training ground outside the Catalan capital, the club said in a statement on their website.

The 33-year-old, given the all-clear by medical staff last month, last played in a 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid just over a year ago and returned to training in December.

Assuming he will soon be available for the first team, his return to action is well timed as Barca centre-back Carles Puyol and full-back Adriano are both out injured at a crucial stage of the season.

Barca are 13 points clear of champions Real Madrid at the top of La Liga with 10 games left and play their Champions League quarter-final first leg at Paris Saint-Germain in two weeks.

"It is not possible to say exactly when he will return but his spirits are good because he sees that there is only a short way to go," club doctor Ricard Pruna said on Saturday.

"I don't think it will take long to see him called up into the squad," he added. "It will depend on the coaching staff but we are close."