Stuart Holden likely saw his 2010 World Cup flash before his eyes as he fell face first into the ground nearly three months ago at Amsterdam ArenA.

Holden, one of the United States' best young players, broke his leg when he was tackled by the Netherlands' Nigel De Jong midway through the first half of a friendly match against the Dutch March 3. After an encouraging few games with his new club team, Bolton, Holden learned that he would have to spend a majority of his precious World Cup preparation time on the sidelines.

A phone call from his new manager, Owen Coyle, then put him at ease, Holden said during the first day of training camp at Princeton University Monday.

"As soon as he found out I was injured he called me up and said 'I see you in our plans for the future and we want to pick up your option and keep you here," Holden said. "It was a big boost for me at a time I was pretty down."

Holden worked hard to get back into shape, and appears to be back to where he started: In contention for a starting job at right midfield.

"I put in a lot of hard work at the training grounds 9 to 4 every day -- double sessions and it's paid off with now I feel now," said Holden, who had six screws put in his leg.

Holden eventually made it back in time to feature in Bolton's final EPL game and is now one of 30 Americans called into action this week in Princeton. There's little doubt he'll be one of the 23 selected to represent the United States this summer in South Africa, though his exact role may be determined by where head coach Bob Bradley chooses to play Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.

Holden is just happy he didn't have to watch next month's tournament from home. Instead, he's back on the field and looks forward to the rest of camp, where about a dozen bubble players are trying to prove they belong.

"Everyone wants to impress and do what they can so it really brings out the intensity and makes for some really good training sessions," Holden said.

Photo credit: AP

 

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