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Holden not being rushed back but there's still time

Bob Levey

Bolton Wanderers fans are getting anxious about the involvement of Stu Holden and understandably so. Some have called it neglect by the manager while others simply want to see the star midfielder back in action. As we mentioned yesterday, Stu's 90 minutes in a reserve loss to Stoke City marked the two year anniversary of the Jonny Evans tackle at Old Trafford that would effectively put the American's career on hold.

Since that tackle, Holden has participated in just four first team games, only going 90 minutes in one of those (a 2011 Carling Cup match against Aston Villa). This season, Stu had played in two FA Cup matches (Sunderland away and Everton at home) as well as having put in 67 minutes against Peterborough United following Mark Davies' injury. As a result, the fans (on both sides of the Atlantic) have increased their calls for Holden's inclusion in a starting XI. Dougie has not obliged.

The reasons for Holden's exclusion are twofold: squad form and not rushing Stu back.

Bolton Wanderers have a number of options in the middle of the park with Chris Eagles, Jay Spearing, Darren Pratley, and Medo Kamara all seeing time in central roles lately. However, it is the form of Jay Spearing and Darren Pratley that is really keeping Stu out of the side. In those two players, Dougie Freedman has a bulldog of a ball-winner and one that is box-to-box without tiring. What Bolton are missing at the moment is an attacking midfielder, someone directly behind the strikers, and that's not a role that Stu fills.

Secondly, Stu is "effectively still in rehabilitation." The club is being extremely wary of Holden's condition and, per the Bolton News, is monitoring his training and recovery schedules closely. The last thing anyone wants is another setback.

As you're all aware, Stu's contract expires in June and both sides want to strike a new deal, as do the vast majority of the fans. Both sides are also being realistic about it. After all, a player is a massive investment and you want to be sure the investment is worth it. There are still three months left to get a deal done and as Stu said in January, the talks will come:

"I want to have that feeling of playing 90 minutes and winning games and feeling like I am back in the full swing of things, I am so close to that I don't want to let anything distract me.

"Those things (contracts) will take care of themselves. Those discussions will take place when the time is right when everyone is comfortable with it. I have been out for a long time, it's important for me to prove myself again and that I can get back to the levels I was at before."