There is one footballer from the other side of the pond who will be keeping a close eye on events as they unfold at the Reebok Stadium this Saturday.
Stuart Holden, who has represented both Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday this year, is currently back in the US recovering from the THIRD serious knee injury of his career.
Back in July, the midfielder tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in the United States’s 1-0 victory over Panama in the Gold Cup final. He went under the knife two months ago and is unlikely to regain full fitness this season.
But Holden, contracted to Bolton until the end of the 2013/14 campaign, recently tweeted: “In a good place mentally and physically with my recovery! I know my hardwork and dedication to rehab will pay its dividends!”
Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Holden moved with his family to Texas aged 10 and went on to play for the USA, making his debut against Grenada in 2009.
The blond haired player twice damaged his left knee in 2011, injuries which kept him on the sidelines for lengthy spells.
However, the 28-year-old made his first-team comeback in January as Bolton triumphed 2-0 at Sunderland in the FA Cup.
But Trotters boss Dougie Freedman allowed Holden to join Wednesday on loan at the end of March. Holden started four times for Dave Jones side, including two Yorkshire derby clashes with Barnsley and Leeds United. His other run-outs came against Blackburn and Blackpool. Holden helped Wednesday pick up seven points in their successful battle to avoid the drop.
“It was almost the perfect loan in that Wednesday did well, and I got sharper with each game,” said Holden.
While he was with Wednesday, Holden said Bolton paid all of his wages. His one-month stint in South Yorkshire enabled him to improve his match fitness and prepare himself for the USA squad’s hectic summer.
“Bolton paid for my entire loan, picking up my salary, but Wednesday were very accommodating in making it known they wanted me to come in and get those games,” he said.
Holden issued a big thank you to Jones and his backroom staff after returning to Bolton. He also praised the club’s “superb” fan base.
“I really enjoyed my time there and hopefully they enjoyed having me,” he added.
Two clubs close to Holden’s heart collide on Saturday afternoon. Both need maximum points to ease the pressure on their respective managers.
Strong characters are needed in times of trouble. What both of them would give to have Holden at their disposal!