By RYAN TOLMICH
Stuart Holden’s injury history has been highly publicized, but former club Bolton Wanderers would be more than happy to have the American midfielder back when he is ready to make his return.
Seven months after a second right knee operation, Holden is now a free agent after his contract with Bolton expired over the summer. Bolton manager Dougie Freedman admitted that there hasn’t been much contact with Holden, but the club remains interested in bringing the Scottish-born midfielder back when he is ready.
“I hope, I really hope I work with him again,” Freedman said of Holden. “He’s a fantastic player and a fantastic fella, no matter what he’ll always be welcomed and that applies to longer terms as well. He is exactly the kind of player I like – he’s enthusiastic, he’s energetic, he wants to be here.
“The deal is still here,” Freedman continued. “It’s a basic one, based on appearances, and when he starts playing it goes up. For Stuart’s mind, take away the football club, the fans, me, this is a player’s career here. We need to leave him alone and not ask too many questions. When he feels completely ready for contact then we can start talking about what we can do for him.”
Freedman went on to take partial blame for Holden’s injury woes, as the Bolton manager admits that Holden may have come back too early as a result of conflicting desires between doctors and club.
“I felt last time it was difficult for both sets of medical staff, and Stuart who was caught in the middle of it, who was completely responsible for doing his rehab,” he said. We’re taking the view this time – with Stuart’s blessing – that the people over in America do it completely. They will be responsible from the beginning to the end of his rehab, there are no in-betweens.
“I made the mistake last time, I wouldn’t say badgering him, but asking when he was ready, we could do with this or that, can you play a reserve game?” he said. “He’s such an enthusiastic guy he was probably giving me the answers I wanted to hear. This time round I refuse to put any pressure on him at all.”
During his rehabilitation process, Holden has been spending some time working on the media side of the game, working as an analyst for NBC Sports Network on select MLS broadcasts out on the West Coast.
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