Owen Coyle has confirmed Stuart Holden will make an eagerly anticipated return to the Bolton first-team on Tuesday as the Trotters face Aston Villa in the Carling Cup.

Holden has been out of action for a significant period of time after suffering a horror injury against Manchester United at Old Trafford in March.

The Bolton midfielder sustained a gash on his leg which required 26 stitches after a challenge with Johnny Evans, while the American also damaged his anterior cruciate ligament in the same incident.

But the 26-year-old has made good progress during his rehabilitation programme, and has appeared for the Bolton reserves on three occasions in recent weeks.

And, says Coyle, this week's cup encounter provides Holden with an ideal opportunity to integrate himself into the senior squad once again.


"Stuart has obviously been out for a long time and this game gives him the opportunity to play against Premier League opponents," the Bolton boss told bwfc.co.uk.

"We all concede that we look a better team when he plays and agree that he was one of the top midfielders in the Barclays Premier League last season, but I don't want to place any extra burden on him.

"He has played two parts of a reserve game - against Fulham and Rochdale - and then he got through the full 90 minutes against Arsenal last week.

"There is no doubt he is getting stronger day by day and tomorrow we will get a really good idea of where his fitness levels are at."

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