Holding proud of 'dream comeback' after goalscoring Arsenal return

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The Gunners defender marked his return after 10 months out injured with a goal in a 5-0 win against Nottingham Forest

Rob Holding admits he couldn’t have written the script any better after his dream return to the Arsenal first team on Tuesday night.

The defender made his first senior appearance since rupturing the cruciate ligament in his left knee last December and marked the occasion with a goal in a 5-0 Carabao Cup win against Nottingham Forest.

And the fact the goal came just seconds after he had donned the captain’s armband following Mesut Ozil’s substitution made the moment even sweeter for the popular centre-back.

“The dream comeback really for me,” said Holding.

“It was a proud moment to put the armband on. We’d had a couple of corners just before when I was just a little bit away from it so I could feel it was coming, then Reiss [Nelson] put a great ball in and I managed to get my head to it. I headed it down so I knew it would at least be on target.

“My first touch as the captain. You can’t write that any better.”

Holding’s goal was part of a number of good-news stories to come from Tuesday night’s game for Arsenal.

Hector Bellerin, who suffered the same injury as Holding in January, also made his long-awaited return and picked up an assist for Joe Willock less than two minutes after replacing Kieran Tierney, who had starred on his debut at left-back.

Hector Bellerin Arsenal 2019-20

“The way it panned out was just brilliant,” admitted Holding.

“For Hector to come back and get an assist straight away, you couldn’t have wrote it any better really.”

Both Holding and Bellerin have gone through their rehabilitation together over the past year since their injuries, which happened within a few weeks of each other in December and January.

It’s been a long road back to the first team, one that has been littered with obstacles, and they have bounced off each other to keep spirits up during difficult periods in their recovery.

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“It’s been a totally new experience,” said Holding. “I’ve never experienced a long-term injury like that before. But credit to the club and the medical staff and the fitness people. They’ve put their arms round me and got me through it.

“Even though it’s horrible to say it, it helped having Hector, who was going through the same thing. You’ve got a little buddy in the gym.

“And when Danny Welbeck was still with us, he had a long injury, so there was three of us who were together and getting each other through it.”

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