Bolton Wanderers manager Owen Coyle has warned fans to be patient with midfielder Stuart Holden, who was this morning wheeled back to the Reebok Stadium by his brother, Stockport County defender Euan.
The all-action American dude was named as the Trotters’ Player of the Year for last season, when his loss through injury precipitated a quite dramatic plummet to 14th in the Premier League table on what was confirmed by Opta to be “the most berserk final day since that one where West Brom stayed up under Bryan Robson”.
Coyle, whom everyone thought to be such a bright young spark only a few months ago, put on his best pair of shorts, cleared the milk bottles from his front doorstep, erected a makeshift podium and began to yell his latest musings through a megaphone so that the people of Bolton, so affected by their local side’s current run of four consecutive defeats, may have their grief alleviated, if only temporarily, by the news that Holden will start tonight’s League Cup tie away to Aston Villa.
The Scottish fellow said: “Stuart will start against Aston Villa, which is great for us.
“He has been working ever so hard to get back to the level where he was outstanding for us last year.
“He played part of two reserve games at Fulham and Rochdale and got ninety minutes under his belt against Arsenal last week.
“We don’t expect him to instantly be at the level he was before but it is a gradual progression and tonight gives him the opportunity to get back into the team.
“I’m not placing any extra burden on his shoulders – he has to be in the right frame of mind mentally and physically to cope with the demands of the Premier League and a Carling Cup tie at Aston Villa, with a last-16 place at stake, provides the opportunity to get him back on the path to full fitness.
“We all know that, with his up-and-at-them style of play, we are a better team with Stuart in it.”
Coyle then turned to go back inside when he was set upon by a gaggle of captivated townsfolk crying “tell us more!” in unison.
Coyle thusly continued: “He probably wanted to be starting matches two weeks ago, such is his desire to play for this football club.
“He is back earlier than I expected because it was a horrible injury when it happened and there is no getting away from the fact he could have been out for a lot longer.
“But the lad is hard-working, conscientious and a quick healer. He had a bad injury prior to the World Cup and he came back a lot sooner than we thought then too.
“He certainly seems to have great powers of recovery.”
Meanwhile, someone or other has decided to link Gary Cahill with Barcelona and it seems to be catching on.