Holden "very confident" about return for USMNT

Bolton Wanderers midfielder Stuart Holden says U.S. National
Team fans can rest assured that he’ll be ready should he get the call-up from
Bob Bradley to World Cup training camp in May.

“I’ll definitely be 100 percent by then,” Holden said in an interview with MLSsoccer.com on Monday. “It’s obviously the coach’s
decision whether to include me or not for the World Cup camp. Hopefully I’ve
done enough to have myself included. I just have got to prove my fitness, and
if I do get selected, I’ll look forward to representing the U.S. this summer.”

Over the last two weeks, Holden says he has stepped up the
training to raise his level of fitness and build muscle in his legs as he
returns from a right fibula fracture suffered last month.

Holden told MLSsoccer.com that there is even a chance he
could be part of Bolton Wanderers' match against Tottenham Hotspur in EPL action this Saturday.

“It’s a possibility, but it’s not my decision,” Holden said
by phone from Bolton. “I’m going to see how training goes this week. If all
goes well with no setbacks, then I’ll be available for the weekend.”

The 24-year-old expects to permanently join full training
with Bolton this week after working on the side in recent weeks, including some
sporadic action with the club’s reserve team. What few know is that the fateful
tackle in the Americans’ friendly match against the Netherlands last month did
more damage than just fracture his right fibula.

“It’s been a strange injury,” he said. “I had a little bit
of a sprain in my knee at the same time from the tackle. So I’ve been rehabbing
two injuries, in a sense.”

It was a Nigel de Jong tackle in Amsterdam that put
Holden out of commission for nearly two months. Holden, who earned his 12th U.S. cap in that match, says he has never heard from de Jong after the incident,
but holds no grudges.

Still, the plate and screws in his fibula will serve as a
constant reminder of the Manchester City midfielder, who was later chastised
for the rough tackle by Dutch national-team coach Bert van Marwijk.

The injury couldn't have occurred at a worse time. Holden
was coming off his first and only two appearances for Bolton on Feb. 24 and
Feb. 27, and seemed on his way to proving he was worthy of the EPL club picking
up the option on his short-term contract in May.

The day after suffering the injury, Bolton manager
Owen Coyle called Holden to let him know the club would exercise their option
and bring him back for the 2010-2011 EPL season.

With the peace of mind of a contract extension, Holden began
the long road back from injury along with fellow U.S. National Team players
Charlie Davies and Oguchi Onyewu. The three have supported each other regularly
during the course of their recovery.

“I’ve had constant contact with Charlie and Gooch, and they’re almost at the point where they’re fully back from their injuries
as well,” Holden said. “It’s obviously been a tough couple of months for
everyone, injury-wise. Now that all of us are starting to turn the corner and
get back healthy, everyone is really motivated and driven by the thought of
playing in the World Cup.”

The debate has already begun about whether players with
limited playing time at their clubs should be selected to the 30-man World Cup
preliminary roster, which U.S. coach Bob Bradley will need to submit to FIFA on May 11.

For his part, Holden has no doubts he can be ready.

“I’d say I’m in the 90s [percent fit],” he said. “Now that
my body feels good, I just need to get my sharpness back. And that’s going to
come with training. We have some high intensity trainings over here. It will be
good to get back amongst the guys and really get working on all that little
stuff that you can’t replicate on the side.

“I’m really confident,” Holden added. “I’m always confident
in terms of my fitness. I’m a good enough professional that I do the little
things I need to off the field, and in terms of taking care of my body and
making sure that I’m doing extra running. That’s something I’ve always prided
myself on. Fitness has always been one of the stronger parts of my game. I’m
just making sure that I keep that up and fitness won’t be an issue for me into
that selection.”


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