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Holden positive after latest Bolton reserve appearance

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Stuart Holden is naturally a bubbly person, but his latest positive comments are likely to be music to U.S. fans’ ears.

Holden started and played 65 minutes for Bolton’s reserves in a 3-0 win over Oldham on Tuesday in what was his longest performance since recovering from the troublesome knee injury that has kept him out of action since March 2011. Holden said after the game that his knee felt fine and it appears as if his return to Bolton’s first team is looming, though the midfielder wants to be smart about how he approaches the final phase of his comeback.

“It was great. I felt good, sharp and fit,” Holden told Bolton’s website. “It was good to put some tackles in, to get on the ball and to be playing in a real game. I now feel that I am getting closer to making my return to the first team.

“It has been a long road but it is one in which I have maintained perspective and I have been taking it at the right pace. It is now important that I don’t get carried away at this late stage.”

Holden received positive feedback from Bolton manager Dougie Freedman after the match and the 27-year-old is now setting his sights on being able to play 90 minutes for the reserve team. Once he’s done that with no problem, then he will be able to dress for the first team and complete his grueling road to recovery.

“If all goes well from this then I don’t anticipate any reaction and I can now take the next step,” said Holden. “That will be playing a bit longer and then I think I will be ready to roll with the full 90 minutes. I am very close now.”


What do you think of Holden’s comments? Expect to be back in Bolton’s first team by the end of the month?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Nearly impossible to contain my excitement, but I’ll be ready to explode if he can get to eight weeks without incident.

  2. For me, the most surprising part of the article is the reminder that Holden is 27. I have always perceived him as much younger because, with all of the injuries, it seemed as though his career never got fully under way. Time flies for everyone, but especially when you’re an athlete.

    If I were Holden, when transfer time came along I might seek out a club in a less physically nasty league.

  3. Is anyone in US Soccer history as unlucky as Holden? He isn’t injury prone, he’s just been on the receiving end of two ridiculously inexcusable tackles.

      • JOB was really injury prone. That’s just physiological in my mind. Holden seems to be very healthy and durable, yet has had his leg broken and his leg sliced open.

      • Though not soccer related, well directly at least – didn’t he also suffer a savage beating once, or am I confusing him with someone else?

      • Oh man, I don’t know. I don’t recall ever hearing anything about JOB being attacked, but if you remember that it could be true.

      • A

        “That’s just physiological in my mind”

        Maybe in your mind but JOB was diagnosed with a hip condition he was born with. In simple terms his hips were out of balance which meant his lower extremities could only take so much pounding and then that was it

        JOB had a limited shelf life as a pro athlete.

        Holden, who was born with a better body, is very unlucky.

      • I think you’re agreeing with me.

        I meant what you said. Holden has a structurally sound body but has been very unlucky.

        JOB had physiological issues that resulted in him being very injury prone.

      • Totally agree. Wasn’t it 2006 in France when the team stunk but he was really outstanding? At his peak he was noticeably better than Reyna, IMHO.

      • Actually, the World Cup in 2002 was held in South Korea/Japan.

        JOB was awesome but Reyna was named to the World Cup All Star 11 that year, the only American ever to have that honor so he wasn’t bad either.

        But I agree with you. If his health had held up JOB might have turned out to be the best player the US ever had.

        In 1998 the World Cup was in France and the US did badly. In the group stage Germany beat us 2-0 with JK scoring the last goal. That was the famous Harkes-Wynalda domestic issue team.

        The 2006 World Cup was held in Italy.

    • many many people also forget that when he was with Sunderland pre MLS, he was jumped and sucker punched, leading to a broken eye socket, and a lost opportunity there. He’s a resilient dude

    • Hopefully he can channel his inner Brian McBride. It seems weird to think for many, but besides allt eh criticism McBride received before 2002 (with a hgue number of NATs fans calling for him to be benched because he didn’t score enough…. sound familiar), he also had some horrendous luck with injuries. The Blood Clot thing in 2000 where he was required to have a rib removed and we werne’t sure if he would be able to play again. The numerous facial injuries, going all teh way back to his high school days. (as well as Italy in 2006 and Mexico pretty much every game).. no wonder he has titanium plates in his face).
      •1997: Right ankle injury.

      •1999: Fractured left cheekbone.

      •2000: Fractured right cheekbone.

      •2000-2001: Blood clotting in right arm that required the removal of a rib.

      •2003: Fractured orbital bone underneath left eye.

      •2007: Dislocated left kneecap.

    • Not as bad as some of the others mentioned, but one of my favorite anecdotes is Ben Olsen. He was really an up and coming midfielder with one of the brightest futures and had just signed in England, I think it was Nottingham Forest. Very early on he really tore up one knee and eventually came back to MLS without ever playing in England.. he had a solid MLS career but was never quite the same after the injury. I saw an interview where he was asked how his life might have been different if he hadn’t had that injury and he said, “Well, I’d be driving a better car.” I’ve seen a couple of other instances where he has what I would call a rather sly sense of humor. I’ve liked him ever since.

      • Wasn’t it his ankle?

        A great guy and a special player. If you did not see him play think of a better version of Zusi ( with all due respect to Graham who still has time to improve).

        Olsen did have a long battle with injuries. I felt he could have been an even more special than he was but for the constant injuries.

        Still, he was a big part of those great DC United Arena teams and he came back to make the 2006 World Cup.

    • Zak Whitbread comes to mind, although I don’t know if it counts. He gets injured a LOT, and it always seems to be right when he is on the cusp of taking the next step.

  4. poor guy, i believe he would’ve been one of the most sough after midfielders in the premiership if it wasnt for those injuries.

    now the trick business of what happens if he regains his form comes along. bolton won’t be in the prem next season and holden is too good (if he is back to his best) to stay in the 2nd division. then again he owes bolton a lot for sticking with him this long…

    • dan,

      It’s possible that Bolton could get relegated yet again.

      In which case Stu , if he gets back, should pay them back by playing well enough to keep them up. If they go down they probably won’t be able to afford him anyway.

  5. Anyone have any info on how he played? Sounds like his knee held up fine, but it takes more than a healthy knee to make the first team (well, maybe not if you play for Bolton).

    On another note: If I’m not wrong, Bolton was sitting pretty mid-table when Stu went down…now they’re at the bottom of the Championship only a season and half later? Fall from grace…

    • If you’ve played after a muscle pull or structural injury, just making it through the first game without falling in a heap during the contest, or showing up to the team doctor with a knee swollen to twice its size the next day, is a victory of sorts. That and evading the muscle pulls attendant with building fitness in a game context. Only after a few weeks of this type of game and increased fitness would I start watching closely from an evaluation basis how well he seems to be moving or how well he is playing.

      • few weeks? id say few months.

        i had a similar injury and it took me a while to finally get over the fact that my knee wasn’t made out of glass and i could start playing again. initially like you said it was if i didnt re injure myself i didnt care teh score it was a victory for me

      • Agreed. I think most people who have suffered serious knee injuries would say the mental scars take a great deal longer to heal than the physical ones. Sub-consciously it is so hard to put 100% faith in a knee that has let you down before.

      • This. It’s not how he’ll play physically; it’s more how his mental game is. Holden played so well because he wasn’t afraid to tackle and dig deep. Will he do that now?

        If he doesn’t, he won’t be the same player he was.

        I know when I broke through both bones in my left leg playing soccer, it took me forever to get over the mental hump. I also pulled my leg muscle during each game for 6 months and was told by the doctor not to run for a year.

      • With all due respect to all of you, I doubt any of you had access to the kind of medical care Holden has received and I also doubt any of you were/are as focused and motivated as Stu is.

        Holden will come back too soon and he’s not going to be conservative because that is not how he got to the EPL in the first place.

        He’s a high level professional athlete not a regular person like we all are. And those people take risks we probably would not.

        My hope is that he gets away with it,

      • No offense, but that is spoken like someone who has never had a serious knee injury before.

        I get what you are saying, and almost all of it is certainly true. The mental hurdle is something that is only beaten with time though. It is nearly impossible to break the subconscious barriers that exist for a while. Your brain simply won’t let you put the same amount of strain on your injured leg, or put it in a potentially awkward position.

        Stu’s support team and his personal mental strength will help him get over that quicker than I did, but it will take time. The quicker he gets stuck in and survives and bad tackle the better though.

      • Gaucho,

        I have never had a serious knee injury.

        Serious back injury? That’s another story.
        As far as I’m concerned if Stu’s welfare were my #1 priority I would want the World Cup postponed to 2015.

        Even though Stu and everyone else will involved with this will say all the right things, blah, blah, blah, I believe it is impossible for a Stu to ignore the lure of being on that team. At 27 and with an uncertain future, it’s probably his last shot at playing more than 6 minutes in a World Cup.

        So he will, I promise you, push harder than he should.

        It seems like everyone has forgotten how Gooch came back too soon for the 2010 WC and is still paying for it. But Stu is a high level pro athlete and taking these kind of risks is what they do.

        I just hope it works out for him.

      • “To get 65 minutes, we are very pleased, and a very good 65 minutes at that. I thought he was very influential in the game as well.”
        -Dougie Freedman

    • This is too true. also, im excited to think about him returning to the national team, only if because he and michael bradley seem to have complete opposite personalities.

  6. blah blah blah, let’s not get our hopes up, blah blah yap yap take our time yap yap he’ll be lucky to get back into first team let alone nats blah blah blah…

    SCREW THAT! COME ON STU! Can’t wait to see him back!

  7. I remember watching the original injury live and immediately fearing for his career. (On the heels of his broken leg at the hands of De Jong, as well; still one of the worst things I’ve seen in soccer. De Jong acting like Holden was faking was disgusting.)

    Good for him, and I hope he continues to make a full recovery.

    • To me, it’s good that he’s in a less-pressured, second division context, reasonable coach it appears, not being rushed. RGIII underlines the necessity of full healing time and the potential for worse injury in playing hurt.

      It is an unintended consequence of the (iffy, to me) simulation rule that a tackler can get up and feign umbrage at claimed simulation in much the same way the tackled rolls around feigning that both their legs were broken in five spots. I also don’t like that deserving people or at minimum borderline people who were tripped occasionally get yellows for perceived simulation. False negatives. Whether he clobbered you or you at least hooked a leg to be able to say, I got tripped, you shouldn’t be risking a yellow getting tripped. I don’t think it’s in the interest of player safety to encourage the refs to focus too much on the potential for simulation. I’d be more concerned that they are looking for the dangerous physical fouls, and distinguishing them from the fakes, and a no-call is just as effective a dis-incentive as the crowd-pleaser simulation yellow (which only ups the mutual drama…..Boswell running over to the guy he tripped claiming he’s faking it….how is that any better for the game…).


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