Holden closer to return to action for Bolton


It has been 21 months since Stuart Holden suffered the knee injury that sidelined him and derailed his playing career, but he is starting to draw closer to a comeback.

Holden played more than 60 minutes in a recent indoor game for Bolton and came through with no setbacks, leaving Bolton manager Dougie Freedman confident that Holden could be back playing with the first team in less than a month.

“We had an indoor game last week against Wigan in which Stuart played 60- 70 minutes. He played very well and came through it,” Freedman told the Bolton News. “He probably needs another two or three behind-closed doors games, but hopefully he will be ready by the middle of January.

“It is difficult but we are doing our best to squeeze games in.”

Holden has struggled to recover from the knee injury suffered on March 19th, 2011 when Johnny Evans delivered a studs-up tackle that caused major damage. He was forced to undergo multiple surgeries, and more than a year on the sidelines, but he looks ready to return to action for the Trotters.

“The plan is that he is back by the end of the month and then I don’t have to go and get a central midfielder in,” Freedman added.

What do you think of this development? Excited to see Holden back in action? See him helping Bolton turn things around and get into the promotion race?

Share your thoughts below.

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70 Responses to Holden closer to return to action for Bolton

  1. PD says:

    While I’m sure they know what they are doing, seems presumptuous to assume that he’ll go from 60 minutes in fleer matches to a weekly starter in just a few weeks. Does that strike anyone else as ambitious? I don’t know, hence me asking….

    • Lost in Space says:

      If he was healthy enough to go 60 minutes…than barring any setbacks it is possible to be back to contributing in another 3-4 weeks. He may not be a 90 minute player when he comes back to the 1st team, but he could be a spark off the bench for 30-45 minutes.
      I would expect (again barring setbacks) that it’ll take 6-8 weeks to round out to full fitness and be able to play 90 consistently.
      Hope he can regain his form and be ready to re-join the USMNT come the Gold Cup. From there he’ll be able to spring back into the full “A” Side national team. A trio of Bradly, Holden, and Jones/Williams would work well in JK’s system (IMO).

    • Brett says:

      Not really. His rehab includes extensive fitness training and I’m sure he keeps his mind sharp with drills. The training matches just put it all to test at once. As soon as he’s gotten his feet back in that setting, the next step is team training and, eventually, competitive football. I guess it’s ambitious in the sense that any athlete recovering from an injury has to believe he can heal before it will happen, but it’s not unrealistic as I think you’re implying.

  2. Amru says:

    So happy to hear this just on the personal side. He’s such a happy guy it’s impossible not to root for him. If he can somehow return to his previous form, which would be a small miracle, before the World Cup out midfield would be one to be reckoned with.

  3. Mike Muschick says:

    wishing that Stuart will finally return and regain his top form….he will help our US National team in the WC Qualifiers, if 100% fit and “in form”….

  4. Eric says:

    Almost there Stu.

  5. Dave from charlotte says:

    It’s been a long road, but can’t wait to see him in action. I would tune in to a Bolton Championship game to catch him play.

    Happy for him since based on everything I’ve read he’s put In a tremendous amount of rehab.

  6. euroman says:

    It normally takes as long to come back fully as a player was out, so Holden should be back in form in about 18 months or so after he starts playing regularly…a loan to a lower league would probably be very helpful.

    • Scott says:

      He is playing well enough to make the team forget about picking up a midfielder in January. He doesn’t need to drop to a lower league or spend 18 months to get up to speed just to start for Bolton in the Championship. He just needs to stay healthy.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      He’s already in the Championship. Plus the implication of the coach’s “I won’t have to buy a center mid” is he intends to use him at least as depth.

      FWIW I think he’s a winger with excellent crossing skills and I think he’d stay healthier if left there. I think the defender’s response to his one- and two-touch give and go style is to tackle the crap out of him, and he’s slightly built.

      • GW says:

        Is Holden the only slightly built player with a “one- and two touch give and go style” ?

        It seems to me there are more than a few players who fit that description in every league. They don’t all wind up missing almost two years due to bad tackles.

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          I was saying it was unwise to play him centrally….

          • GW says:

            Stu himself has said in interviews that he has always tended to drift inside even when he has played winger. He made his name with Bolton as a central midfield because that is where he is best used.

            Bradley played him out on the wing, Shea being the other winger, in a 4-3-3 against Colombia and I remember that game as seemingly having the entire US midfield within 10 feet of each other in the middle for most of the game.

            And now that he is older and coming back from injury, he is unlikely to be any faster or quicker than he used to be, useful traits in anyone who plays on the wing.

            Besides, please don’t tell me you can’t get hurt out on the wings. Wasn’t Zakuani out on the wing when Mullan did his best DeJong imitation?

            So for better or worse, if he makes it back for the US it should be in the middle somewhere.

    • Michael Stypulkoski says:

      Please explain how you figure that.

      • SuperChivo says:

        “It normally takes as long to come back fully as a player was out” is more or less a paraphrase of what Klinsmann said when he was working as a commentator for the World Cup. I believe it was in reference to Charlie but it may have been in reference to Gooch.

    • ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

      Euroman: [citation needed]

    • Josh D says:

      I disagree greatly. These days players bounce back from broken legs in three months. Stu’s was slightly worse, but the athleticism isn’t my worry. Science fixes most of that with his injury. It’s his psychology. Does he still dig in like he did or is he now afraid? Will he start pulling out of tackles? That’s the hard part because that 100% on his shoulders. I hope he does. He deserves it.

    • Jake says:

      They already moved down to the Championship. I’m pretty sure he can get back into form there. He was a clear Premiership player when he got hurt.

    • ex_sweeper says:

      There’s a world of difference between being functional and regaining the timing and muscle memory needed to function at an elite level. That does take a lot of time.

    • chris_thebassplayer says:

      Barring any physical setbacks, with his vision and intelligence, it’s more about getting his wind and shaking the rust off his touch and passing. Also getting over the mental hump…taking a few knocks and having the confidence to know that he’s not going to fall apart. I really can’t see it taking longer than two months from this point, if what his manager says is true. After all he has been through, I’m sure the whole coaching staff has told him to be a little more selective choosing his battles. He’s too good a player and too important to the success of his team, and the nats, to be throwing himself into 50-50 trainwreck challenges. Do us all a favor Stu, stay on your feet.

    • Eurosnob says:

      Holden was a well-established starter at the EPL prior to his injury. Since Bolton is in Championship now, there is no need to loan Holden out to a lower league, Technically he is superior to most Championship players – the only issues for him would be how well he recovered and match fitness. Playing in a lower division would not help in either of these areas.

  7. Redneck says:

    It’s so good to hear that he’s ready for a comeback. Great news to hear at the end of the year.

  8. jonf says:

    he was on the verge of being one top world class central mids in the world. yes, i said it, world class!

    • Good Jeremy says:

      He was on the verge of being pretty good. He could have joined Reyna and O’Brien as the best we have had there, but seems to be more O’Brien than Reyna.

  9. Dennis says:

    Good Luck to him. I hope he is able to recover the kind of athleticism he displayed before the injuries. Even with modern medical treatment recovering exceptional performance is no guarantee, the recent history of some badly injured players demonstrates the uncertainty, some seem to miss nary a beat, others struggle to be a shadow of their former selves.

  10. CJ says:

    Every time I see Johnny Evans playing, I get mad. These dirty players are allowed to destroy careers and at worst they get a red card and have to sit out a game or two.

  11. Ryan says:

    In terms of being hopeful that he has a miraculous return to his previous athleticism, different sport but one need look no further than Adrian Peterson. We should be realistic that it might take a while for him to get back to his best (if ever), but there’s reason for hope.

  12. Joamiq says:

    God I miss him.

  13. BigBirdLenny says:

    Yeah, Stu! I don’t care if he ever plays for the national team again, I just want to see him have a productive (and lucrative) career from here on out. If he gets into form and contributes to the USMNT, that’s all gravy. In the long run, a Jimmy Conrad & Stu Holden broadcast team could make CareBears look grumpy. Pure Prozac for the American soccer fan.

  14. Wendell Gee says:

    Ugg…the headline’s been the same for months. Hoping for the best, but what a depressing situation.

    • Geoff Gunning says:

      Cheer up, this is the first time anybody said he played in a game for 60 minutes. This is huge. He’s only a few weeks away from being all the way back.

      • timmytwoshoezzz says:

        All the way back is being an extremely solid center mid for an upstart premier league team. He’s still MILES away from that, and may never get there in reality. Playing will be a nice way to start though, and wish him the best.

  15. Turgid Jacobian says:

    He sure seems like a good egg. I hope he makes it back to where he was, and that this time he manages to avoid the poor luck.

  16. A says:

    Stay away from Johnny Evans.

  17. beachbum says:

    great to hear, and best wishes Stu!

    as versatile a player as there was in the pool prior to his injury. can play anywhere in the midfield and even as a outside back. top shelf service he provides, something the USMNT lacks in abundance.

    Man I hope he makes it all the way back. Was poised to be a true difference maker for the Nats.

    Here’s hoping he does it!

  18. ec says:

    It’s great that Holden has been so loyal to Bolton… but they kind of seem cursed there. Wouldn’t mind seeing him move on at all. And that is my highly rational analysis…

    • GW says:

      “loyal to Bolton”?

      More like the other way around. As a player whose future ability to play is in question, where was Stu going to transfer to?

  19. Vincent says:

    Why did it take so long? Guys in the NFL tear ACLs, patellar tendons, and busts knee caps and come back in 9 months. What are the docs in the UK doing?

    • THomas says:

      He came almost all the way back and then they found something else that required surgery they had either missed or didn’t think needed fixing the first time.

  20. Hank Rearden says:

    Atta boy, Disco Stu! Need you for the hex, mate!

  21. THomas says:

    I envision a World Cup 2014 team playing 4-3-3 with Jones sitting behind Bradley and Holden in midfield, Donovan Dempsey and Altidore in attack, Cameron and whoever emerges at center back, with Johnson and Chandler bombarding forward from their fullback spots for width.

    • Peter says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Cherundolo or Bocanegra are still starting for us in 2014.

    • Nick says:

      Provided you could answer the question marks of Stu, LD10, and a CB, that would be a pretty freaking solid 11 within a system that we’d all like to see the USMNT play.

    • Bobb says:

      That is our best 11, probably with Gonzalez as the other CB.


      Bench: Gomez/Boyd, Williams/Edu, Guzan, Parkhurst/Dolo, Boca/Brooks?, Shea/Pontius, Kljestan/Diskerud

  22. JMR says:

    Wishing you all the best Stuart! Hope things move quickly for you and it feels good to get on the pitch again. Tear up those Championship fields!

  23. Colin Barth says:

    I like Stu, and wish him well, but much of this is wishful thinking, dude has had serious knee issues, it is possible that he may not ever be the same player.

  24. Maverickman874 says:

    Hope he comes back strong to regain his previous form. His injuries are such a shame because he was really performing well in the EPL

  25. Brad C says:

    We need you. Hell, I need you. I’m a mess without you. I miss you so damn much! I miss being with you. I miss being *near* you. I miss your laugh! I miss your scent. I miss your musk… When this all gets sorted out, I think you and me should get an apartment together!

  26. Good Jeremy says:

    John O’Brien 2.0?

    • TomG says:

      There are some definite similarities, but JOB pretty much gave up and couldn’t handle the repetitive cycle of injury and rehab followed by more njury and rehab. It’s pretty demoralizing, but Stu has a unique, positive makeup that may help him succeed where JOB failed.

      • GW says:


        You question JOB’s courage and make it sound like Stu is more courageous than JOB.

        That is unfair to JOB.

        Even with his shortened career he accomplished far more than Stu has yet.

        He was diagnosed with a hip condition that was not going to get better and made his back and lower extremities predisposed to injury. Basically, his body was only going to be able to take the wear and tear of pro sports for so long and then that was it.

        In comparison, Holden seems basically healthy but he is just unlucky with traumatic injuries.

  27. Cairo says:

    Glad to hear he is nearly back, and I wish him the best…but Stu Holden as the US savior is silly. Was his skill set at his highest level really markedly better than that of Bradley and Jones? A full return would make the USMNT deeper and maybe a little tiny bit better, but he is not a game changer, even at his best. Ths Nats don’t move into the world’s top 15 if he comes all the way back. Far more interested in seeing guys like Gonzalez, Gatt, Diskerud, Boyd, and Corona get better and help the team improve. One guy, from a lower level EPL team (championship now) does not markedly change things

    • GW says:

      Realistically, barring something unexpected, the one player whose return to form and fitness would make the biggest difference to the USMNT’s World Cup chances is Donovan.

    • chris_thebassplayer says:

      It remains to be seen what his performance level will be post injury. Prior to the injury I would have taken Holden over Jones. He moved the ball quicker, was a better passer and much better crossing the ball. Also, he played well on the flank and was not as streaky as Jones. It’s almost apples and oranges to compare the two, Jones is a straight Dmid. I’m in the minority though, I’d rather see MB protecting and distributing in front of the back line and Holden above him or on the flank. There are other areas of need for the nats, but a healthy Holden would be a noticeable boost in our ability to retain the ball and create opportunities.

  28. Jeffrey says:

    Yes, yes I am.

  29. RP says:

    Your first two sentences are worthy of a conversation. The rest – not so much.
    Stu was still on the ascent and Bolton was fighting for a top ten spot.

    With Stu the US gains another high quality mid fielder. His inclusion I dare say is the kind that makes the difference between winning the hex or not and advancing from group okay or not.

    • GW says:

      RP says:

      “Stu was still on the ascent and Bolton was fighting for a top ten spot.”

      Stu has been with Bolton for 4 seasons. He has played a total of 28 league games for them out of a possible 139 to date. Which means he has missed about 80% of the league games he could have played for Bolton. He last played for them in March of 2011, almost two years ago.

      “With Stu the US gains another high quality mid fielder.”

      Stu WAS a high quality mid fielder in March of 2011. What he is right now no one knows.

      “His inclusion I dare say is the kind that makes the difference between winning the hex or not and advancing from group okay or not.”

      Based on what evidence? A 28 game run nearly two years ago with a very different team?

      That sentence qualifies as wishful thinking.

      Good players are always welcome but the role, more or less, that Holden would have had if he were at his best is now occupied by Mikey. The missing player whose return would make the most substantive difference to the US’ World Cup aspirations is Landon Donovan but they should do well even if neither one comes back.

  30. Dennis says:

    Assuming Holden returns to good form in 2 or 3 months, a hope, not a certainty, he will still have to compete for a spot in a fairly crowded midfield. With Bradley, Jones, Williams, Dempsey, Donavon all in that mix and Diskerud, Zusi and others looking to get in as well, Holden will have to play very well. That said, injuries can cut both ways, just as he is coming back, others may get injured (lets hope not many) and make some space in what is already a crowded spot.
    The first order of business is for him to play for Bolton and help them climb back into the EPL. His role for the USMNT is (or should be) a secondary consideration and will depend on his performance at Bolton in any case.

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