Stuart Holden returned to the Bolton lineup
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American Exports: Holden could return within a month

AMSTERDAM – It's been a long time coming for Stuart Holden, but his journey to recovery from a series of troubling injuries looks to be entering its final phase – Bolton manager Dougie Freedman said Saturday that he expects his recovering star man back in the side before the end of January.

The US midfielder has not played since last September and only once since March of 2011 due to a knee injury which eventually required a second surgery.

"We had an indoor game last week against Wigan in which Stuart played 60 or 70 minutes," Freedman told The Bolton News. "He played very well and came through it. He probably needs another two or three behind-closed-doors games, but hopefully he will be ready by the middle of January."

Under the boss' best-case scenario, Holden could make his return as early as January 19, when Wanderers travel to face Crystal Palace.

"It is difficult, but we are doing our best to squeeze games in," added Freeman. "The plan is that he is back by the end of the month, and then I don't have to go and get a central midfielder."

Saturday's home win over Birmingham City pushed Wanderers up to 14th place in the Championship table.