We've examined just how huge of a loss Stuart Holden was to Bolton Wanderers. They felt it a little bit after Nigel De Jong broke his leg in an international friendly (only because Holden had yet to really make an impact for Bolton) before feeling the true force of his absence following Jonny Evans' tackle.
Holden has played just one game in the last 18 months (a Carling Cup tie against Aston Villa), and has been doing physical therapy in Delaware with Jim Hashimoto, the head physical therapist for US Soccer.Now, club physio Andy Mitchell has made the trek stateside to evaluate Holden and hopefully send good news back across the pond.
Good news will certainly mean a morale boost for fans and players alike as both parties realize Holden's importance to the squad. The team felt the lift last season as Stuart Holden was in the stands as Bolton beat Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park just before christmas.
Bolton are very keen to not rush Holden back but would desperately like him to be part of the team. Just a few weeks ago, Owen Coyle sent Holden his match and training kits in order to state that he has not been forgotten by the club. If all goes well, Holden will be back on the field by the end of October.
"It'll be nice to get him on the field and playing in front of us. But he's a smart guy - he knows he's not just going to be able to come back, snap his fingers and be ready to go," he told The Bolton News . "You don't sit out for nearly a year and then just have everything come back right away.
"It'll take time for your touch to be perfect or for your fitness to be perfect. Sure, there's a bit of pressure on him to come back and do what he did before but at the same time, we're all realistic with what we expect.
"He'll gradually get there and I think as a team we can help him with our performances out there on the field too."
"This would be the first time I'll get to play alongside him," he said. "Obviously, I watched him a lot in MLS and for the international team but once he left for the UK, I came in, and then when he started getting injured I came in the for US national team. We've kind of been missing each other.
"But he's the kind of player who could really energize the team."