By IVES GALARCEP
Stuart Holden resumed full training with Bolton on Thursday, a major step in his return from a knee injury that has cost him most of the past year and a half. Despite the fact that he hasn’t worn a U.S. national team uniform in more than two years, U.S. fans still clamor for his return every time there is some hint of a chance he will begin playing again.
Bolton manager Dougie Freedman was quick to try and calm expectations about just how close he is to returning to the field.
“He is training with us on every second day. He is looking nice and fit and his sharpness will come,” Freedman said of Holden. “He is such an enthusiastic lad and he is great to have around. I have tried to encourage Stuart to get around the place which is good for us.
“But we are still a couple months away from seeing Stuart, let’s not kid ourselves, but we are looking forward to that.”
Holden’s path to recovery has been a long and frustrating one for him. He has been forced to watch from the sidelines as Bolton faced relegation and his former manager, Owen Coyle, lost his job. Holden has also been forced to watch as new faces emerged on the national team and his old coach, Bob Bradley, was replaced by Jurgen Klinsmann.
So much has changed since Holden last played for the United States, and even for Bolton. He has to still recover full fitness, and test out his surgically-repaired knee. As Freedman pointed out, Holden is probably still some months from being a regular, and even then it would be premature to start talking about the national team.
If you want to think about Holden and the national team, think about this summer, when the U.S. will have both qualifiers and the Gold Cup. Six months is plenty of time for Holden to work his way back, re-establish himself for Bolton, and regain the form that once made him one of the top midfielders in the English Premier League.
As eager as you may be to see him back on the U.S. team, you need to think about what the past three years have been like for him. The two major injuries, and the more recent setback that cost him all of 2012. Holden has been through a lot, but continues to show the kind of confidence and good nature that makes him an inspiration.
It’s easy to see why people are desperate to see him in a U.S. uniform again, but patience is key. Root for his return to Bolton, and let him get settled again for a good while before starting the “Klinsmann call up Holden” campaign.