Holden pays tribute to fans

Midfielder grateful to supporters after making first-team return

Holden: Returned from a six-month injury lay-off against Aston Villa

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Stuart Holden has credited the Bolton fans for helping him make a successful first-team return in the Carling Cup against Aston Villa on Tuesday night.

The USA international played the full 90 minutes as the Trotters secured a 2-0 victory at Villa Park to progress to the fourth round.

The appearance was his first in six months after he sustained a serious knee injury against Manchester United in March following a tackle by Jonny Evans.

The 26-year-old midfielder was quick to acknowledge the role the Trotters supporters played in his comeback.

"My hospital room was flooded with cards and flowers as soon as I got the injury and the fans have kept me motivated throughout," he told the Bolton News.

"I've tried to keep them up to date with videos and updates and I know they appreciated that.

"When the manager announced I'd be in the team I had over 1,000 tweets and I'll bet there are plenty more waiting for me because I came through 90 minutes and the team got a much-needed win."

Frustrating

Bolton currently sit second-bottom of the Premier League after a torrid start to the season and Holden admits it has been frustrating watching from the sidelines.

"The injury was tough and to sit and watch for the last six months has been draining but it's given me more motivation to get back," he said.

"The first people I hugged after the game were the medical staff who have helped me through to this level. For me, this is another step along the way."

Holden never doubted he would return to the Premier League after undergoing successful surgery on the injury.

"The surgeons always say it's career threatening until they fix you and then they look like geniuses," he joked.

"But when he said the surgery had been successful and that I'd be back in six months - here I am six months and two days later."