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Neymar returns to 1st-team practice with Barcelona after being sidelined nearly 4 weeks

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BARCELONA, Spain - Barcelona forward Neymar has taken a big step toward returning to action, practicing with the first-team on Monday.

The Brazil striker has been sidelined since badly spraining his right ankle in a Copa del Rey match at Getafe on Jan. 16. He has missed a total of seven games.

Barcelona says Neymar is "in the final phase of his recovery" with the Catalan club travelling to Real Sociedad on Wednesday for the return leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal series, which Barcelona leads 2-0.

Neymar has scored 10 goals in 24 appearances since his summer move from Santos, which has also caused off-field distractions as a Madrid court investigates irregularities in the player's contract.

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