STUART Holden will be given every chance to prove he can return as a player at Wanderers before being offered any other role at the club.
Dougie Freedman revealed yesterday the midfielder is planning to launch another comeback bid despite his latest effort lasting just 23 minutes of Monday night’s development squad game against Everton.
Holden faces a fourth knee operation in three years and will fly to the USA on Monday to consult his surgeon to see what his next move might be.
But Freedman insists the club will back the 28-year-old’s efforts to return to the pitch before speaking about keeping him on in a different capacity.
“As long as I’m at this football club – and I’ll speak for Phil Gartside and Eddie Davies too – Stu will be a part of it,” he told The Bolton News.
“With everyone’s best intention, Stu will be a part of this club as a player, on the pitch, playing. There are many different ideas we’ve got with other things – but right now I’m backing him because he wants to carry on playing.
“You come across people at football clubs that are here for money, for the location because it’s just around the corner, or they are coming to the end of their career or they are using us as a stepping stone.
“But people like Stuart are the complete opposite, he doesn’t talk about his contract, he wants to know how the younger players are doing and why we’re doing different stuff in training.
“I want him here for many, many years to come.”
While questions are bound to be asked about whether Holden can physically handle another operation and rehab effort, Freedman has asked that no-one jump to conclusions until he has had time to speak with surgeons back home.
The Whites boss revealed that his midfielder is being typically upbeat about his chances of a quick return.
“I’m desperately disappointed for him,” he said. “But after it had happened, I went to see him the next night for a meal and a drink and he’s a very positive person. I was going with the attitude ‘have you got it in your mindset to go again Stuart?’ “But before I got the question out he was telling me ‘I’m going back there to see my surgeon and if the worst comes to the worst, I’ll be back training in pre-season, if it’s the best possible news then I’ll be back training before the end of the season.’ “And if he’s got that attitude then I am backing him 100 per cent.”