Bolton Wanderers fans have watched every step that Stuart Holden has taken in a bid to return to full fitness with cautious optimism. Prior to his injury, Stu was very much the team's engine, the team's driving force on defense and on attack. After more than two years, Holden is finally in a position to make a full return to the squad.
The road has been nowhere near easy as the midfielder has faced setback after countless setback right from the off. In an interview with Fox Soccer, Stu Holden, along with his girlfriend, Karalyn West, and brother, Euan, detailed the recovery process.
Speaking in the interview, Stuart detailed his injury as it happened and the recovery process.
"It was one of those split-second decisions when I thought I could win the tackle and obviously Jonny Evans did too," he said. "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, 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."
His girlfriend, Karalyn, remembers where she was when the tackle occurred, telling Fox "I was in a bar in Austin at 10am watching the game when he got tackled with my friends.
"We would always go Saturday mornings with my girlfriends and go watch his games at the same bar down the street from my house. When that happened, my stomach dropped."
Stu was then asked about the recovery process and if there was ever a point where he felt the bid to get back just was not moving forward.
"That was probably last summer. 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."
The interview is the first of a two-parter, filmed about a week ago while Stu Holden was still on loan at Sheffield Wednesday. We'll have the second part here as soon as it is available.