USA star Holden pledges Reebok stay - come what may

First published in Sport The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , chief football writer

STUART Holden is confident Wanderers will succeed on survival Sunday – but has pledged his future to the club regardless of their plight.

The US international will be one of the near 3,000 anxious visitors making their way to the Britannia Stadium, where nothing but victory will be good enough to save the Whites’ skin.

Owen Coyle’s side must also hope Manchester City beat QPR at the Etihad Stadium if they are to haul themselves over the line at the Hoops’ expense.

Holden has faith that Wanderers will beat the odds – but facing another few months on the sidelines with a knee injury, he has also assured fans that he will be making his playing return at the Reebok.

The 26-year-old was among the top flight’s leading midfielders before he started a frustrating spell of 16 months on the sidelines, punctuated by a solitary appearance against Aston Villa in the Carling Cup last September.

But with an end to his injury hell in sight, he has backed his team-mates to preserve their Premier League status with victory in the Potteries.

“I have a firm belief that won’t change until the last whistle of the last game that Bolton Wanderers will remain in the Premier League,” he told The Bolton News.

“There’s nothing I can do and that’s the hardest part for me. I can’t affect the results on the pitch in terms of playing.

“But I am happy at Bolton Wanderers and I know that this is the right place for me.

“I’m a part of this club and you live and die by that. You ride the high waves and you ride the low ones.

“You can’t start thinking two steps ahead because you can only really affect the present.

“We have the characters, the quality and the right people in charge to steer the ship right.”

There are 11 first team players out of contract this summer, including five who took to the field in last Sunday’s 2-2 draw with West Brom.

Kevin Davies, Zat Knight, Ivan Klasnic, Martin Petrov and Sam Ricketts are among those whose future has yet to be confirmed - but Holden has not picked up any signals that the uncertainty has affected results in the run-in.

“At the end of the day, everyone wants to be a Premier League footballer and that’s why everyone is at Bolton Wanderers,” he said.

“We want to play in the Premier League but it is exclusively down to us to make sure that happens.

“Whether you’re contracted or out-of-contract, all that is cast aside when you go out and step over the white line.

“All that stuff that can be talked about in the locker room or the dressing room, once you get out on the pitch you’re representing not the name on your back but the club whose badge is over your heart.

“That’s the spirit that the gaffer has installed at Bolton for a while and that’s what we need to play for.

“You get individual accolades - player of the year or goalscorers - but at the root, football is a team game and you live and die by the results of the team.”

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