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Eric Abidal’s comeback regiment includes hiking the Pyrenees

Oct 10, 2012, 3:41 PM EST

Barcelona's Abidal talks to teammate Mascherano during the presentation ceremony of his team in Barcelona Reuters

Eric Abidal said he wanted to return before the end of the year. That sounded ambitious when Barcelona visited Paris for a friendly this summer, but at this rate, the France international may be back in blue and red before winter break.

The 33-year-old defender had a liver transplant earlier this year. Now, he’s resumed a light training regiment that includes some aerobic work, on-field training and, as seen below, walks in the Pyrenees:

There’s something symbolic about climbing mountains that lie between France, where Abidal’s been recovering, and Barcelona, the defender’s eventual destination.

Is it appropriate to talk about the competitive implications of Abidal’s return? It’s a touchy subject when you’re talking about a life-threatening condition, but given he’s resumed training, it seems almost dismissive not to.

In this weekend’s Clasico, we saw one of the implications of Abidal’s absence. Adriano, one of Barcelona’s left back, was using as a type of central defender – left-sided, sliding in to help, getting support from Sergio Busquests. It’s a role Abidal’s better suited to play.

But just because Abidal wants to be back by December doesn’t mean he’ll be ready for a Clasico soon. You’d imagine this will be a slow process, even after he’s playing again. For most fans, just seeing him in the blaugrana will be enough.

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