Barcelona assistant Vilanova has gland surgery

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Associated Press

Posted on November 22, 2011 at 5:07 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 22 at 5:07 PM

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova is recovering from surgery on a salivary gland, the Spanish and European champion said Tuesday.

Barcelona said the operation went "satisfactory and as planned" at the Vall d'Hebron hospital. Pep Guardiola's closest aide will need three to four weeks to recover.

Guardiola revealed he had known about the operation several days earlier.

"These have been difficult days for us, because these things affect you, they happen suddenly and are shocking," Guardiola said. "When Vilanova knew about it he was clear with me and the doctor so we'd be discreet.

"The team didn't know, today he was operated on and the doctor explained to them what was happening with him."

The parotid gland produces saliva and sits in the back of the jawbone. Surgery is often done on the parotid gland to remove benign lumps or swelling in the gland.

"I don't know how Tito is because the operation didn't happen long ago, but the news is good," Guardiola added. "I hope he's back soon. I want to thank everyone at the hospital.

"Tito is very strong and we wish him all the best. He is an extraordinary person and we hope he's back with the team soon and back to normal life as soon as possible."

Barcelona sport director Andoni Zubizarreta says "the team has already experienced something like this, though more serious."

Defender Eric Abidal recovered from surgery to remove a liver tumor in March.

"The impact of this news is the same as with Abidal even though they are two different illnesses," Guardiola added. "Abidal came back, Tito certainly will too.

Vilanova will miss Barcelona's Champions League match against AC Milan on Wednesday.

Barcelona captain Carles Puyol said the team would dedicate the match to Vilanova if it wins.

"Tito is much more important than a win," Guardiola said. "We're going to go out there and do what we have always done these past four years — and what he has obviously helped us do — but what's most important is his health."

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