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Sports News
Eto''''o back after injury lay-off 2/5/2007
Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 10:16 GMT

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Eto''''o back after injury lay-off

Coach Rijkaard welcomes Eto''''o (right) back to first team training
Barcelona''''s Samuel Eto''''o ended a four-month injury nightmare and played the last five minutes of the league leader''''s 0-0 draw at Osasuna on Sunday.

Some pundits were surprised that last season''''s leading scorer in the Spanish first division, and the three-time African Player of the Year, was given so little time to break the stalemate, but Eto''''o himself was not.

"I knew beforehand I was only going to get five minutes," said the Cameroon international striker, revealing that Frank Rijkaard had discussed his role with him.

The coach explained: "He wasn''''t here to play many minutes and we have to act prudently. It''''s important that he got into the rhythm, participated and we have to carry on working with him."

Many were surprised that Rijkaard actually named Eto''''o in his squad on Saturday after only three days full training with the rest of the squad but the player came through his first challenge unscathed.

"I''''m quite OK," said Eto''''o, after a contribution which really only consisted of a couple of touches of the ball and some running along the left flank.

Nevertheless, it was a welcome return for the player after picking up a serious knee injury against Werder Bremen in the Champions League last September.

His reappearence also sparked warm applause from the Osasuna fans.

The big question now is, when will Barcelona''''s number nine regain his starting role at Barca?

Eto''''o scored four goals in as many league games at the start of the season before his injury and Barca''''s other main target men, Javier Saviola and Eidur Gudjohnsson, have failed to fill his boots.

"I have to respect what the other players in the squad have done," added Eto''''o but there is the strong feeling in the Spanish media that Rijkaard could name him to the starting lineup against Racing Santander next Sunday.

Barcelona currently lead the Spanish first division by one point after 21 games but have often seemed out-of-sorts without their talismanic striker.

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