STUART Holden wants to prove himself again at Wanderers before being drawn into talks about his contract.

Just under two years since his last appearance on the Reebok pitch, the American midfielder made an emotional return as a second-half substitute in Saturday's 2-1 FA Cup defeat against Everton.

Dougie Freedman had stated last week that new contracts are not currently a priority with the club languishing in the bottom half of the Championship table, raising concern that Holden, whose current deal expires in the summer, could be lost for nothing.

But having made his first steps back after a long-term injury stemming back to March 2011, Holden is focused only on resuming his career with the Whites.

“With this injury, I just want to get back playing every week,” he said. “I have a job on my hands just to get back in the team.

“They have worked me back in slowly and everything has been at the right pace. First and foremost my thoughts are to be playing week in week out for Bolton.

“I want to have that feeling of playing 90 minutes and winning games and feeling like I am back in the full swing of things, I am so close to that I don’t want to let anything distract me.

“Those things (contracts) will take care of themselves. Those discussions will take place when the time is right when everyone is comfortable with it. I have been out for a long time, it’s important for me to prove myself again and that I can get back to the levels I was at before.

“The fans gave me a great reception and I hope to repay their support and encouragement over the last year and a half.”

Holden was given a rapturous reception after replacing Josh Vela with 10 minutes to go at the Reebok.

And the 27-year-old thanked the fans after the final whistle, despite a late goal from John Heitinga putting a dampener on the occasion.

“Even when I warmed up the first time, I got a nice reception,” he said. “But when I was coming on, the goosebumps kicked in.

“I tried not to react because I was focused on coming on. But it was impossible not to hear that. It was a great moment for me, it’s just a shame the game ended like it did.”

Wanderers head to Watford next weekend looking to rejuvenate their league fortunes which, with 18 games remaining, could still hold a push for the play-offs, Holden claims.

“You never say never and we are not completely out of it,” he said. “It’s important to go out, pick up some results and gain momentum.

“I have faith and belief and I know there is faith in the dressing room we can do it.”