U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden endured an injury setback during his return to the field with Bolton's U-21s on Monday. (Gregory Bull/AP)
Stuart Holden is surely sick of the words "injury" and "setback," but he was forced to endure them both on Monday.
The oft-injured, supremely talented U.S. midfielder made his first game appearance since tearing his ACL in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final this past July, suiting up for Bolton's U-21s against Everton on Monday. His return to the field lasted just 22 minutes, according to Bolton's game report, as he had to leave after suffering an undisclosed injury to that same right knee.
From Bolton's official match report:
Stuart Holden completed 22 minutes of action for the under-21s before being forced off against Everton on Monday evening at the Reebok. The returning American international went down in some discomfort when chasing a loose ball, but was able to pick himself up before running from the field of play and down the tunnel. ...
Gracing the Reebok turf for the first time this season, Holden almost made the perfect return as he slid the ball into the path of Zach Clough, but the young striker was only able to slam his effort into the side netting. Straight from the resulting goal-kick though, Matthew Kennedy looked set to break the deadlock after sprinting away from the Bolton defence but the youngster dragged his shot agonisingly wide of the upright. In the 23rd minute however, Wanderers were dealt a killer blow as Holden, clearly in discomfort, dropped to the floor with the midfielder being replaced by Luke Woodland.
During the match, Bolton's official Twitter feed provided detailed updates of Holden's struggle, certainly something that was difficult for Holden's teammates, friends, family and fans to watch unfold.
Bolton did acknowledge that Holden ran off the field "unaided," and it is unclear just how severe the injury is or how much of a precaution he and Bolton were taking. Either way, the development is clearly not an encouraging one for Holden, whose career has become defined by injury comebacks and for whom time is running increasingly short if he hopes to make a final dash to the World Cup roster.