Holden Recalls Long Road To Recovery

  • April 28, 2013 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/563a7

Stuart Holden has spoken about his long road to recovery and the tough times where he feared he may never play football again.

After missing the better part of two years through injury, Holden made his return to the Bolton first-team in February when Wanderers beat Peterborough United 1-0 at the Reebok Stadium. A short spell on loan at Sheffield Wednesday followed, before the United States international featured as a late substitute in Bolton's 1-1 draw at Cardiff City on Saturday.

More than two years since suffering his first serious knee injury, the Trotters midfielder has spoken about his time on the ground at Old Trafford and the shock of hearing just how bad the problem was.

"It was one of those split-second decisions when I thought I could win the tackle and obviously Jonny Evans did too," Holden told FOX Soccer Channel. "He kind of came in with a little more authority than I did, you could say.

"It all happened so fast. I just kind of remember the impact and remember looking at my knee. You know, a gaping hole, essentially, and seeing into my knee. I still didn't think I'd done anything that serious and they checked me out after.

"They took me straight to the medical room and had three or four doctors checking on me. They said 'we think it's just a really deep cut, we think you'll be ok.' From that moment, they put me in an ambulance and rushed me to a hospital and had a few scans done.

"Next thing, you know, I'm lying on a bed and hearing doctors talking and debating over my scans. I'd fractured the joint of my knee and need surgery tomorrow because it was an open fracture and I was going to be out for a minimum of six months. To be from such a high to instantly such a low was really tough for me."

Holden returned to the Bolton team for a League Cup tie at Aston Villa in September 2011, but that would be his only appearance of the 2011/12 campaign as he required further surgery to clear him from cartilage damage and remove a pin that had been inserted into the initial fracture.

After a series of false starts and minor injuries suffered playing for Wanderers' development squad, Holden was asked whether he ever feared for his career.

"That was probably last summer," he said. "I was building, I was doing so well and then I would just hit this brick wall when I tried to go on the grass to take my rehab to the next step.

"It would knock me back for a week as we'd let the swelling settle down and I would build it up over two weeks and think I was getting there again and then the same thing.

"That was probably the hardest time, not the initial injury, not the second surgery. It was at the point where I felt helpless almost. Everything that I did and no matter what I did, trying different approaches, going slower than the last time, it wasn't working."

Despite appearing against Peterborough in February, Holden's lack of match fitness was preventing him from winning a regular place in the Bolton side. A one-month spell at Sheffield Wednesday would follow and he believes his time at Hillsborough helped put aside fears of a relapse.

"I think it (the loan) has gone better than I'd expected to be honest," he said. "I felt fitter every game, I felt stronger, I felt sharper and every time that you step on the field, you're feeling more confident, in more of a rhythm and things start to come back to you.

"You get on the ball and you stop worrying about your knee. It's more about how you're playing and that's why I think it's been a major success.

"I had a number of talks with the manager (Dougie Freedman) and we both kind of decided that it would be best for me to get game time.

"Sheffield Wednesday - as soon as we made a few calls - they were straight in for my entire loan.

"It didn't cost Sheffield Wednesday any money for them to take me on board so, in that sense, it was kind of a win-win for everyone around. I'd go out and get games and get fitter and get stronger and then be able to come back to Bolton and play a more vital part in the team.

"My first game, I was thrown in a local derby against Barnsley in front of 30,000 fans and I played in the Yorkshire derby against Leeds in front of 25-26,000. All of these games mean so much because they're in a relegation battle, essentially. I don't think I'd have it any other way."

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
15 Shrewsbury Town 26 30
16 Cambridge United 25 30
17 Bolton Wanderers 25 29
18 Lincoln City 25 28
19 Fleetwood Town 25 28
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