Football - Freedman calls for Holden patience

United States international Stuart Holden may have returned to England last weekend, but Bolton boss Dougie Freedman has urged supporters to be patient when it comes to his playing comeback.

The luckless midfielder, 28, is currently undergoing rehabilitation following a third long-term knee injury which has restricted him to just five appearances for Wanderers since March 2011.

Holden flew into Manchester from the States on Sunday and was pictured among Bolton supporters during their 3-2 defeat to Wigan, where he immediately headed after arriving in the country.

However, while supporters were naturally lifted upon seeing the fans' favourite among them, Freedman knows it could still be some time before Holden is on the pitch, rather than the stands.

"It's great to have Stuart Holden back in the building with us," Freedman told the Trotters' official website.

"It's still a little bit of a different case with Stuart at this moment. He brings a great quality to our group when he's in and around the place.

"If we're being honest, he's still got a long way to go. Don't expect to see him out on the pitch in the coming weeks, but knowing Stuart and his mentality, he's working as hard as he possibly can to get back out there.

"The plan is pretty straightforward. Stuart is back over here to spend a few weeks with our medical guys. We'll see where he is, and then he'll head back to the US to continue his rehabilitation.

"The main reason for that is because he's already started his rehab work over there. The weather is also better for him to work in.

"Once he has made significant progress on that front, probably about six to eight weeks, he'll then come back to us to step up the work on the football side of things."

Holden is keen to represent his country at the World Cup in Brazil next summer but that is likely to depend on if he can prove his fitness while with his club.

His return would certainly boost Bolton, who also welcomed Mark Davies back into their fold against Latics.

Davies, himself a long-term knee-injury victim, appeared off the bench for the final seven minutes in what was his first taste of first-team football since February.

"Mark's worked very hard for his opportunity to be on the bench," said Freedman at the time.

"He's a great fellow and he'll hopefully get back to some form very soon for us."