Vilanova to undergo surgery

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

The 44-year-old, who had surgery to remove a tumour on the same gland last November, is due to remain in hospital for "three to four days" after the operation. A statement from Barcelona's medical services revealed despite the news, Vilanova could remain in charge of the first-team squad while undergoing his treatment.

"In monitoring the process of his parotid gland, an extension of the pathology was detected, requiring surgical treatment on Thursday," the statement on fcbarcelona.es read.

"An extension of the pathology has been detected in [Vilanova's] parotid gland. The manager requires surgery which he will undergo this Thursday. He is expected to remain in hospital for three to four days.

"After the surgery, Francesc 'Tito' Vilanova will undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment for approximately six weeks. During this time, and depending on how well he recovers, Vilanova's treatment may be compatible with his work life. Keeping in line with the patient's wishes, we urge respect and privacy during this process."

The statement confirmed a press conference with president Sandro Rosell and director of football Andoni Zubizarreta will take place at 6.45pm (BST).

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 the 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 the 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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