at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Madrid – Barcelona forward Neymar has returned to the training pitch for the first time since sustaining an ankle injury two weeks ago and is recovering well, the Spanish champions said on Friday.
The Brazil international is on track to return to action in between one and two weeks, meaning he will be available for Barca's Champions League last 16, first leg at Manchester City on February 18, Barca said on their website (www.fcbarcelona.es).
Coach Gerardo Martino said Neymar's recovery was going “very well” but insisted he would not rush the 21-year-old back before he was completely ready.
“I always have absolute respect for what the medical staff and physios tell me,” Martino told a news conference.
“But I am not fixing Manchester City as the target,” added the Argentine, in his first season in charge after taking over form the ailing Tito Vilanova.
“I know that we all hope he will be fit for this match because it's obviously a key game.
“If he is fit before then he will play before then, if he is not fine he won't play.
“Whatever happens, the importance of the match would never justify putting the player at risk.”
Barca's next game is a La Liga clash at home to Valencia on Saturday (5pm).
They are level with Atletico Madrid on 54 points at the top of the standings after 21 matches. – Reuters