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Don’t expect to see Stuart Holden with the United States before September

Mar 7, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

Aston Villa v Bolton Wanderers - Carling Cup Third Round Getty Images

When Mr. Smiley Stuart Holden returned two months ago for Bolton, the United States national team fanbase went into a frenzy speculating about whether the creative spark plug could come back to the American line up any time soon.

The answer, it seems, is no. And we’ll probably have to wait even longer than you might have otherwise expected. The Bolton Wanderererererers plan on bringing the fragile midfielder back sloooooooooooowly.

ESPN’s Doug McIntyre did the hard work on this story, talking to Bolton News chief football writer Marc Iles: “Before Stu made his return at Sunderland I was told that even though he would be back on first-team duty he was effectively still in rehab, his recovery would still need to be closely managed and not to expect him to feature every week. That information has proved correct.”

The 27-year-old Holden has played exactly 94 minutes since returning to action. That’s not a lot. The club continues to believe in him — manager Dougie Freedman is talking contract extension beyond the end of this season — but the team doesn’t want him getting injured again. Slower is better. “It may well be that he doesn’t get back into full flow until preseason,” Iles says.

That would have two consequences: 1) It would mean Holden would almost certainly not be ready for June’s World Cup qualifiers and 2) It gives credence to McIntyre’s theory that Jurgen Klinsmann would leave Holden with Bolton instead of calling him to July’s Gold Cup. If that’s the case, we’re talking no Stars and Stripes for Holden until September.

And, honestly, that’s probably best. The United States doesn’t need Holden at 60 percent or 90 percent. They need him at 100 percent, the player he was before his run of injuries, the one on the brink of claiming a starting spot. If that takes until September, let it take until September. He’ll have plenty of time to show off in Brazil. Um… right?

  1. docstraw - Mar 7, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    as fans, we sometimes have a warped sense of what it means for these guys to be fully fit after serious injury. See Charlie Davies, 2010.

  2. berlintexas - Mar 7, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    As a Dynamo fan, I have a very soft spot for Holden but it astonishes me the amount of love he gets from Nats fans. He played one Gold Cup and a few qualifiers. He could have been great but with this kind of layoff I don’t think he’ll ever be the player he was, much less a messiah. His story, sadly, reminds me a lot of John O’Brien.

    • Dan Haug - Mar 8, 2013 at 8:38 AM

      I feel the same way. I like the guy, and really hope he comes back stronger than ever. At this point, though, he’s JOB without the world cup run.

  3. lndrpol - Mar 9, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    we need him, but it’s better to have him at the end of qualifying and for the world cup than for the beginning and risk injury, i would love to break de jong’s leg every time i think of holden

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