LONDON (AP) – American midfielder Stuart Holden played his first game in 16 months and only his second in 22 months, returned from knee surgery as Bolton eliminated Premier League struggler Sunderland with a 2-0 on Tuesday night, advanced to the FA Cup's fourth round.
Holden entered in the 74th minute of the third-round replay. The 27-year-old, a member of the 2010 U.S. World Cup team, injured his right knee during a challenge by Manchester United's Jonny Evans during a Premier League game on March 19, 2011. Holden returned from surgery to play in a League Cup match against Aston Villa that Sept. 20, then had another operation on the same knee eight days later.
''It felt amazing to be back out on the field doing what I love again,'' Holden said in an email to The Associated Press. ''All the hard work over the past year during some really tough times prepared me well for this moment. Onwards and upwards from here, the work doesn't stop now. It's only the beginning of the next step to playing every week!''
Holden's role at the 2010 World Cup was limited after his right leg was broken from a tackle by Nigel de Jong during the Americans' exhibition game at the Netherlands that March 3. He was out of action until May 9, Bolton's final game of that season.
Marvin Sordell scored a pair of goals for second-tier Bolton, converting a penalty kick in the 64th minute after Jack Colback fouled Darren Pratley and doubling the lead in the 73rd. Bolton hosts Everton in the next round on Jan. 26.