Rob Holding has revealed that he struck up a close friendship with Arsenal Women’s Jordan Nobbs after the duo both suffered ACL injuries within a couple of weeks of each other.
The 23-year-old centre-back hasn’t featured for the first team since the 2-2 draw with Manchester United in early December but should be back soon after the start of the new campaign.
In a new documentary charting his return to fitness, the England under-21 international also touched on the importance of his friendship with Danny Welbeck and Hector Bellerin as they too spent hours in the gym after season-ending injuries of their own.
Holding says he first got to know Nobbs, who sustained her injury against Everton in November and has subsequently missed the World Cup, when the pair were coaching Gunners youngsters at the Hale End Academy but it was the daily contact while both sidelined that saw their bond grow.
“At first, we were just like, ‘This has hit us both at the same time’” Holding says in the ‘Road to Recovery’ documentary. “Then every day, I’d be in the gym and I’d go to the academy gym where she was at, and we’d sit and talk for 10 minutes.
“We’d talk about how it’s feeling, how the knee’s swelling, what’s the next exercise, what’s the plan, when’s your next holiday… I’ve literally just got to know her as a person. I think we’ve really helped each other along this journey.”
Holding also shared that he cried when he saw Hector Bellerin suffer his own ACL injury during the January victory over Chelsea and that Welbeck, who broke his ankle in November and needed several surgeries, played a vital role in keeping spirits high amongst the injured crew.
“I obviously love Hector to pieces and stuff, but I didn’t think I’d cry about another guy’s injured,” he recounted.
“It’s because it was so recent to my surgery, it was literally four weeks after. I knew everything he was about to go through and I just got overcome with emotion a bit.”
He added on Welbeck: “He’s been a massive part of the group,” our defender said. ‘He’s just someone that lifts everyone around him, who walks in and brightens up the room up straight away. Even though his injury is an ankle, he’s like an honorary guest to the ACL rehab crew. We couldn’t do this without Danny.”
Holding started ball work towards the tail-end of the last campaign and will be hoping to build up his strength with the first team when they head on tour to the States next month. Whether he gets game time remains to be seen – it could still be a little early – but his return will be a boost when it happens.