Hard work was key to USA international Stuart Holden’s return to action after he made his long-awaited return in Bolton Wanderers’ FA Cup win against Sunderland on Tuesday night.
The 27-year-old was a 74th minute substitute at the Stadium of Light as the Trotters ran out 2-0 winners against the Black Cats in their FA Cup third round replay.
Holden – out with knee problems since September 2011 – said the long and lonely days of gym work, plus the support of his team mates made his return special.
“I was sitting in the hotel reflecting on the last year-and-a-half and how much work I’ve done and how many days I’ve spent in the gym,” said Holden.
“For that to culminate now and being back with the first team, doing what I love, was a special moment for me.
“It was great just to be a part of it all again. It’s been so long. I’ve played a few reserve games but nothing compares to being out there with the first team.
“Everyone was encouraging me before, wishing me good luck, and they talked me through the game and made me feel comfortable back in there.”
Holden has been a regular fixture on Bolton’s injury list after aggravating a knee injury in a 2-0 League Cup victory against Aston Villa in 2011.
Since then the Whites have seen a dramatic decline in fortunes as they were relegated from the Premier League before Dougie Freedman replaced former boss Owen Coyle.
But midfielder Holden – who represented America in the 2010 World Cup – believes the Scot can help him develop further as a player.
“We’re under a new manager now and he’s brought in some new philosophies,” he said.
“I really feel that he’ll help me move on to another level as a player. I want to kick on and get back in the team and be a regular in the starting XI.”
Image courtesy of Bolton Wanderers FC, via YouTube, with thanks.