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 Sunday, September 29, 2002 01:18 EST

Jardel agrees to return to training


LISBON -- Sporting Lisbon will lift its suspension of Mario Jardel on Saturday after the Brazilian striker agreed to return to training with the club following bouts of depression.

Jardel, Europe's leading scorer last season with 42 goals, was suspended earlier this month after failing to turn up for a series of medical examinations.

Jardel, dubbed "Super Mario" by Portugal's sporting press, has "shown his willingness to return to his sports activity", the club said in a statement on their website.

Jardel, 29, has not played this season and the Portuguese champions have struggled without him. They are ninth in the premier league, five points behind leaders and Lisbon rivals Benfica.

Jardel said in late July he was unable to play in Portugal because he was not in the right psychological condition after separating from his wife.

He was on his fourth consecutive medical leave for depression when his return was announced.

"I am sorry if I have caused any harm to Sporting or third parties, but they were done involuntarily without the intention of hurting anyone," Jardel said in a statement released by Sporting.

Sporting rejected a proposal from Spain's Real Betis earlier this month to loan Jardel to the Seville side but said on Thursday they would work with the player to help him recover from his depression.

Sporting are away to northern side Braga in the Portuguese league on Sunday.

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