As we all know, Holden was away from first team action for almost two-and-a-half years after an initial injury sustained in March 2011. That time, he was crocked by Manchester United clogger Jonny Evans, and although Holden managed to return in a League Cup match against Aston Villa in September, a routine check-up would show need for a further operation. Following a reserve team game in January 2013, Stuart Holden made his long anticipated return to the first team on 15 January, coming on as substitute in an FA Cup Replay win against Sunderland.
Having been given permission to miss Bolton's pre-season campaign in order to get much-needed competitive match practice, Holden had played well for the United States in the run up to the Final.
Though the full extent of the injury is yet to be revealed, it is impossible to look back at his injury record in recent years and not fear the worst. We all know what Stuart Holden can do, and we know that his affection for Bolton Wanderers is real and in this age of players seeing clubs as just another vehicle through which to earn enough to buy even bigger headphones, it is a refreshing change when a player and club seem to have real chemistry together.
That said, Holden's Bolton Wanderers career, which began in 2009, has only yielded 34 appearances to date. I fully expect that the manager, Dougie Freedman, has had a contingency plan in place should Stuart Holden struggle to regain fitness, indeed the news that his contract extension has yet to be signed supports that belief. Wanderers need reliable midfield reinforcements before the season begins and the injury to Stu last night would only exacerbate that need.
We can only hope that the injury is not as serious as first thought, but at the same time it is prudent to make plans based upon assuming the worst. With that in mind, the only name on Bolton Wanderers' fans lips at the moment is Jay Spearing. The 2012/13 Player of the Year is still at Liverpool with no sign of becoming the first team player that he clearly craves and clearly deserves to be. A move back to the Reebok Stadium is believed to be desired by him, and, let's hope, by Dougie Freedman and Bolton Wanderers.
Whilst we have Medo Kamara, Keith Andrews, Josh Vela and Darren Pratley currently able to play a central midfield role, the addition of Spearing would both soften the blow of losing Stuart Holden, whilst also reinforcing a vital position in the squad and providing a huge boost both on and off the field with a return for a favoured player.
We all wish Stuart Holden the very best of luck with whatever he has to face in the coming days and weeks, and we will be sure to bring you the news and reaction when it breaks.