In the midst of "get better, Stu" and "gutted about Stu Holden" tweets, a very vocal and relatively large group of Wanderers fans made it clear that Holden's wages were apparently too much of a burden on the club and that the sensible choice would simply be for Bolton to tear the player's contract up and send him on his way.
The argument is that letting go of Holden could make business sense for Bolton Wanderers. Statements from the club make it seem likely that Bolton and the player will see out the one-year contract that the player signed at the end of May, giving the central midfielder one more chance to fight back and prove his worth. In the official release from Wanderers, below, the club discussed a treatment plan which makes the situation sound as though they will hold on to Holden:
"We've got the scans and the results will be analysed by our specialists. We can then put an action plan in place over the next week to ten days when the initial swelling reduces."
Jurgen Klinsmann echoed the sentiment in US Soccer's release:
"We are absolutely devastated for Stuart.
He is such a great part of our team on the field and the locker room. He worked tremendously hard to recover from previous injuries and had really come back into form. He was fully prepared to head back to Bolton and challenge for a starting spot. Now he will have our full support as he goes down this road again, and we will be with him every step of the way."
Holden has been arguably the unluckiest player in football in the moment as he had just 70 minutes left in the Gold Cup to complete what would have been a fairy tale recovery.
It didn't go that way though and as Stu Holden knocked his left knee on the back of Alberto Quintero's right, the American immediately went to ground. It wasn't the left knee that Holden hurt, it wasn't the one injured in the infamous Jonny Evans tackle. It was the other one, the right one, the one that was previously unscarred. Holden wasn't without injury to that leg, mind. In 2010, Nigel De Jong's studs-up lunge during a Holland-US friendly broke Holden's right leg well below the knee.
In recent years, Wanderers have had their fair share of extended injury absences with knees being some of the main culprits. Josh Vela suffered a pair of long-term knee injuries and the pair of Mark Davies and Joe Riley are dealing with those issues right now. David Wheater has just returned from a damaged ACL and Wanderers fans will be well aware of the histories of Ricardo Gardner and Joey O'Brien. Of those last two, knee injuries ultimately brought an end to the former's career while the latter overcame his to become a Premier League regular.
As everyone knows (or should know), Bolton Wanderers are in quite a cash crunch, facing some £136 million in debt as of their last financial report (November, 2012). In that report, the club listed a massive £48,385,000 wage bill for the 2011/12 season. That number has since dropped dramatically with Phil Gartside saying on multiple occasions that it had been halved with the likes of Ivan Klasnic and Nigel Reo-Coker leaving after relegation. In addition to that, Wanderers have sold or released some of their highest-earning players over the summer with Sam Ricketts, Martin Petrov, Kevin Davies, and Marcos Alonso finding pastures new.
Many forget that Stu Holden was a trialist at Bolton Wanderers (and Burnley before that) prior to Owen Coyle signing him until the end of the 2009/2010 season. The following September, after recovering from the De Jong leg break, Wanderers announced that Holden had signed a new three year deal, based on the manager's faith, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2013.
It was in the first year of that contract handed to Holden on faith alone that Wanderers fans saw the best of Holden. In the 2010/11 season, it was Bolton pushing for a spot in Europe and it was Stu Holden leading the charge in midfield, establishing him as one of the Premier League's best tacklers. Despite missing the last two months of the season, Holden had one of the highest tackle totals in the Premier League and surpassed that of Fabrice Muamba's, who had made 36 appearances that season, ten more than Stu. It was that ability that left everyone cheering for Holden.
That deal ran out in June but not before Dougie Freedman had offered the player a further year after a promising comeback with a few appearances for Bolton, five for Sheffield Wednesday, and eight for the United States Men's National Team all in the last few months of the 2012/13 campaign and following summer.
The American's wages are easily more than the $34,728.75 that he made per year in Major League Soccer but they will not have been anywhere near the level of some of the club's highest earners. It begs the question of just how much of an impact Holden's wages really have on an already relatively high wage bill. The player will not be earning nearly as much as people think he is.
Footballers injured in the line of international duty is a pretty common occurrence and as such, many national federations like the Football Association carry personal injury insurance on their players. Holden, hurt playing for the United States Soccer Federation could be covered by such a policy (waiting for confirmation of the fact in the case of the US) which would alleviate much of the financial burden on Bolton.
Then, we get to the injuries. Stu Holden has had enough injuries in his relatively short career to last a lifetime already. In 2005, after signing with Sunderland, Holden's eye socket was fractured outside of a bar in Newcastle during an attack. In 2010, Nigel De Jong broke Stu's right leg. In 2011, Jonny Evans' studs caused ligament, bone, and cartilage damage to Holden's left knee. Against Panama last Sunday, Holden tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. A torn ligament isn't as severe as a ruptured ligament and gives hope that Stu can see a fair bit of game time in the 2013/14 Championship season.
This is a player that has shown an incredible amount of resilience in the face of adversity over the last eight years and he has already made a promise to come back stronger. Instead of completely writing the player off, especially as he is under contract and Wanderers aren't offering anything new just yet, let the man fight to get back.