Stuart Holden was delighted to make his long-awaited Wanderers return after playing 65 minutes for the development squad at the County Ground last night.
The midfielder has spent a prolonged period of time on the sidelines with a knee injury, but recently returned to training with Dougie Freedman’s side at Euxton.
The US international successfully navigated his first completive match since his return, featuring in the Whites’ 3-0 Manchester Senior Cup victory over Oldham, but the 27-year-old insisted that he will not get ahead of himself.
“It was great. I felt good, sharp and fit,” Holden said, speaking after the game. “It was good to put some tackles in, to get on the ball and to be playing in a real game. I now feel that I am getting closer to making my return to the first team.
“It has been a long road but it is one in which I have maintained perspective and I have been taking it at the right pace. It is now important that I don’t get carried away at this late stage.
“But as far as how my knee felt and how I felt out there, I think I can come away from that feeling really good about it all and now I need to do the proper things during the recovery and prepare myself for the next game.
“If all goes well from this then I don’t anticipate any reaction and I can now take the next step. That will be playing a bit longer and then I think I will be ready to roll with the full 90 minutes. I am very close now. I have worked so hard to get to this stage and I don’t want to do anything now to mess that up.
“The manager said that I had done well after the game. He has been very encouraging and understanding about the situation since he got here. I am very thankful for that and he doesn’t put any pressure on me to rush back. We have all got the long-term goal in mind.
“Training has been great. It has been so intense and it has been nice to learn the manager’s perspective of the game. He was a good player in his time and he has got a lot to teach and I am willing to listen and learn to make myself a better player.”