FC Barcelona forward Neymar handled the ball at practice Monday for the first time since he was injured in the club's Jan. 16 Copa del Rey match with Getafe.

The Brazilian star returned to the practice field last week under the supervision of club physiotherapist Juanjo Brau, who has been overseeing the striker's recovery from an injury to his right ankle.

Neymar hopes to be match fit in time for Barça's Feb. 18 Champions League clash with Manchester City.

After a day off, the rest of the Barcelona squad were back at work preparing for Wednesday's first leg Copa del Rey semifinal against Real Sociedad.

Barça is anxious to shake off Saturday's 3-2 home loss in La Liga to Valencia.

The defeat allowed Atletico Madrid, who routed Real Sociedad 4-0, to take exclusion possession of first place in La Liga after sharing the top spot with the Catalan club for much of the season. EFE