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Barcelona drop Italian defender Coco

BARCELONA, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Barcelona's Italian defender Francesco Coco, who earlier this week made a hasty apology for saying he could leave the club if he was not restored to the first team, found himself dropped from the squad altogether on Saturday. 

Coco said on Tuesday he could consider a return to Italy after losing his place in the starting line-up to Spanish international Sergi. 

Two days later, he backtracked from those remarks, saying he was happier than ever at a club he joined on loan from AC Milan before the start of the season. 

Coco will not even be on the bench for Sunday's home clash with Sevilla, although coach Carles Rexach said the Italian's absence was not related to his comments. 

"It's not a reprisal, or anything like that," Rexach told reporters after announcing the squad on Saturday. 

"I always prefer to name a squad of 16 rather than 18 and Coco isn't there because that's what we believed was best. 

"He has apologised to the squad and in front of the media and that's the end of it."

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