WANDERERS will stand firmly behind Stuart Holden’s comeback bid after the midfielder was cruelly sidelined with another serious knee injury.

Chairman Phil Gartside reassured the US international of his future in the small hours of Tuesday morning, soon after scans confirmed he had suffered a torn cruciate ligament playing for his country in the Gold Cup final on Sunday night – the second such injury in the last two-and-a-half years.

Holden will sign a new one-year contract on his return despite facing at least nine months on the sidelines and, given time for the injury to settle, put on a rehabilitation programme by the football club overseen by new head of performance, Mark Leather.

Doubters have been quick to write off the American but he was typically upbeat, vowing yesterday to “rise again” on his official Twitter account as messages of support flooded in from around the world.

Since damaging his knee in a horrific challenge with Manchester United’s Jonny Evans in March 2011, Holden has played just five times for Wanderers.

He recovered from ligament damage, associated with the original injury to face Sunderland in January and also spent time with Sheffield Wednesday to improve his fitness.

A busy summer of international football with the US was supposed to bring him back to the fold next week in top condition, but while the cruciate injury is a considerable blow, the fact that it has occurred in his right knee and not the same left one as before is regarded as positive news in the longer term.

Wanderers must now come to terms with losing a player seen by many as a key figure just three days before the season kicks off against Burnley at Turf Moor.

Freedman has midfield options such as Medo Kamara, Darren Pratley, Keith Andrews and Josh Vela but will be without Mark Davies, who is recovering from yet another cruciate injury, until the New Year.

It remains to be seen whether that will prompt the club to up their efforts to land Liverpool’s Jay Spearing, seen by most supporters as their number one target, before the close of the transfer window.

Freedman desperately wants the ball-winner, who was a major driving force behind the team’s success in the second half of last season, but the club currently cannot afford to match the fee being quoted by the Reds.

Meanwhile, ex-Wanderers boss Owen Coyle is backing Holden – the man he signed from Houston Dynamo in 2010 – to overcome the latest injury blow of his career.

“I have no doubts whatsoever he will be back,” he said.

“He’s already been robbed of two years of what would have been his peak.

“The season before he got injured, I believe he was one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.

“And I’m including all the lads at the elite clubs – Stuart Holden went toe to toe with all of them and more than held his own.

“He’s a real team player, and that’s why he’s held in such high esteem by all of his colleagues, and we’re all with him as he begins his next recovery.

“I watched him in the Gold Cup, and he looked as though he was back to his best.

“He’s shown he can come back once, and I know he can come back again.”