STUART Holden should find out in three weeks whether he can step up his comeback bid for Wanderers .

Owen Coyle has confirmed that the US midfielder recently had a clean-up operation on his knee and would soon be visiting a specialist to confirm whether he can return to training .

Should he get the news he wants, the 27-year-old could then be back at Euxton by October.

Holden has played just one game in 17 months and Coyle remains reluctant to put any pressure on him after such a long time on the sidelines.

But the Whites boss sent him a reminder that he is firmly in his plans by mailing a home and away kit to him last week.

“He’s doing well at this moment in time,” Coyle said. “He had a clean-out three weeks ago and is feeling better for that, but it’s such an important time for him personally now. It has to be done at his own pace so that he feels physically and mentally ready to step it up.

“What he has done up to now has been minimal but he’s felt good within it.

“I sent him over (to the United States) his home and away kit last week for a little boost, knowing that sooner rather than later he’ll be using it.”

Holden’s injury nightmare began last March when a tackle from Manchester United defender Jonny Evans left him requiring surgery on a broken bone and his knee.

He made a dream comeback, inspiring a victory over Aston Villa in the Carling Cup last October, only to be dealt another hammer blow when it was revealed that pins inserted into his knee to stabilise the earlier injury had caused ligament damage.

It has been a slow recovery for the 2011 player of the season, but Coyle is optimistic he will return eventually to play a significant part in the club's promotion push.

“I spoke to him the other night after the game and he sounded in a great place,” he said. “The character and the lad he is, his first concern was to ask about everyone else.

“Bit by bit he’s doing the stuff that he’s being asked to do and then in two-and-a-half weeks he’ll see a specialist. If that has been a good chat then as opposed to the minimal training, he’ll be able to step it up to where he feels he’s able to come back into it.

“The length of time he has been out, he has to be given time to adjust.

“But we saw last year when he came back and played one game at Aston Villa – he was the best player on the park by some way.

“We know the quality and we know how much we’ve missed him as a player and a character in and around the team but that’s for another day now.”