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Free agent Holden told he can return to Bolton when ready

StuartHoldenBolton1-Sunderland2013 (Getty)


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.

Would you like to see Holden return to Bolton? What do you expect of him when he comes back?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. He should be a player/coach for the newly rebranded team in LA. He’s already out west. He would be a recognizable face for a franchise searching for an identity. He could spend a season playing at a lower level as his comeback progresses and if he is ready for a higher level before the new LA team joins MLS, he can always get a loan to the Galaxy, Dynamo, Sounders or whoever.

  2. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I am slightly reminded of Jermaine Jones in this situation. Jones was out with injures for the longest time, and came back to be a pretty impactful player both with club and national team (although arguably not the same player he would have been minus injuries). I wouldn’t count Stu out until he says it’s time.

    • He should retire from national team play and just focus on club play. He’s fragile. Put as few miles on his legs as possible to stretch out what he has left in his career.

  3. Holden’s injury woes have clearly been affected by his returning to play too early. I’m glad everyone involved is willing to take their time on this go ’round, especially considering this is probably his last shot at a comeback.

    • Probably would have been talking about Stu as our best Midfielder for the past 4 years…no offense to Bradley or Jones ( I’m a fan of both) but Stu’s form with Bolton that year he was first hurt was ridiculous. I believe he was named best CM for the first half of the season or something like that, in the BPL!! He and Lee Chung-Yong (injury problems as well) were dynamic for that squad.

      I still remember that first time long ball volley he had off the bounce to win a game that season….Bolton finished 7th…let that sink in a bit haha.

      • He was named that by one source. He was a beast that first half, mostly thanks to his league high in tackles, but he was far from an overall XI best midfielder.

        It would have been interesting having him fit. Bradley was a fool who wasted him on the wings when the team was crying for someone besides Edu, Clark, and Torres to play in the middle.

        Davies had a big upside. But he wasted his own career.

      • I watched a lot of those Bolton games and I agree he probably wouldn’t have ended Best XI ( that’s usually populated with players from the big 4), but he was definitely more than just a tackle machine that year. he was very influential in everything that team was doing well that season. Of course we all know what kind of service and free kick ability he had.

        Wish him the best and hope he can get at least one more full season somehow. I feel like he is one of those types of athletes where you don’t have to worry about if they will be successful after they hang em up.

      • holden was a huge reason bolton did as well as they did that year. as you said in another comment, he was always one of the most influential players on the field (gary cahill was dominant that year as well), and he was a real fan favorite.

      • Yea, you’re right…after Holden was hurt they tailed off at the end of the season. With Holden they got up to around the 7/8 spot for awhile though.

    • I’ve done a lot of thinking about this lately myself and figured it would be fun to look at the best 11 “What Might’ve Been Players” for the USA that, because of injury, bad career decisions, or just bad luck, they just never lived up to what they could have been. Here is my preliminary 11:

      Adu – Davies –
      O’Brien – Holden – Szetela – Renken
      Zimmerman – Boss – Whitbread – Gatt

      Some of these guys may still turn out. We’ll see. Please feel free to add your players to this list because I’m sure there are a few I am missing.

      • O’Brien is a step too far in the past. Move Gatt out of RB.

        Szetela breaks my heart. He was such a stud coming up through the ranks; he reminds me now of Mix: both creative with a bit of flair. Another guy, Ferrari, also looked promising in that squad.

        Who was that guy stuck at Celtic for like four years as a keeper? He was meant to be a solid player. There was also that other guy who came up the ranks with Renken who was supposed to be as good. My memory is poor today…

        Kenny Cooper is another who most people forget about. The man was smashing in goals left, right, and center for Manchester United’s lower teams. He just stopped progressing, thanks in part to this dad’s overbearing nature.

        Too soon to throw Shea into the mix?

      • Dominic Cervi is the keeper that used to be at Celtic that you were thinking of. His size was there, just could never beat out the players in front of him. Wikipedia profile says he is “retired” now.

      • Are you thinking of J.Gyau who came up with Renkin? He’s obviously doing alright for himself haha….I feel you may be thinking of Martinez? What happened to that kid??

      • Jerome, Renken and Gyau were all apart of that same U-17 group. Wasn’t Wilmer Cabrera their coach? I feel sad for that guy!

    • The 2010 WC team that could have been if …..Charlie Davis, Stu Holden, Gooch, & Jones hadn’t been injured. The only thing missing would have been a true Left Back.
      May not have been pretty, but would have been a very good counter attacking squad.
      Subs: Edu, Holden, Feilhaber, Torres, Gomez, Spector, Goodson, Guzan, Buddle,


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