In the 14 months since Stuart Holden ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, Bolton Wanderers have gone from a team that challenged for a Europa League spot to one suffering relegation.
It's clear that Bolton misses the American international, but Holden hopes that he can return this season to help drag the English club back into the Premier League.
"It was very disappointing for everyone involved, getting relegated," Holden told Goal.com. "I'm looking to getting back on the field at some point this season - hopefully sooner than later."
Holden was having a career year until a tackle from Manchester United's Johnny Evans injured his right knee in March 2011.
Heading into 2011, Bolton was in fifth place vying for automatic qualification into the Europa League. After Holden's injury, the club's form dipped dramatically and the team finished in 14th place. It was partially due to that reason that Holden was awarded the team's player of the year award despite missing two months of the season.
Holden returned prematurely last season, playing 90 minutes in a Carling Cup match against Aston Villa in the competition's third round. The decision backfired. Cartilage damage in his knee forced Holden to miss another six months. The 26-year-old says that he has been working extensively to get back to match fitness.
"I'm doing a lot of rehab at the moment, twice a day in Delaware," he said. "I just started running a bit which is nice."
Looking forward to the upcoming Championship season that starts on Aug. 17, Holden hopes that Bolton can immediately bounce back to England's top division.
"We can all come back with a stronger team next and try to get back," Holden said.
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Holden is also excited by the progress of fellow American Tim Ream, who joined Bolton in January. Holden believes that Ream will become the team's leader on defense this season.
"Tim has been acclimating really well actually," Holden said. "He had a good second half to the season and got a place on the team. He'll be looking to build on that for next season and really be the focal point of our defense."
If Holden's knee heals properly, there might be an American as the focal point of Bolton's midfield as well.