Billy Bodin believes he has been better for having bided his time in recovering from the injury which kept him out for the entirety of last season during the current pre-season campaign.
The Welshman has impressed in North End’s summer friendlies so far, having totted up 180 minutes’ game time in the matches against Bamber Bridge, Cork City, AFC Fylde and most recently Chorley, who the Lilywhites beat 2-0 at Victory Park on Tuesday night with goals from Alan Browne and Graham Burke.
Speaking to iFollow PNE after that fourth consecutive victory of the summer, Bodin explained how he believed he has benefitted from continuing his recovery during the off-season by working hard with the fitness staff, rather than rushing to get back into match action at the end of last term.
“When you get the news that you’re going to be out for a full season, the main thing you want to do is get back to playing games; that’s what your job is,” Billy told the club’s media channel.
“For me and obviously Josh [Harrop] as well, to get that first game under our belts at Bamber Bridge was massive for us and to be able to play even longer than a half, which both of us have done now, it’s a massive thing for us.
“When I first got the injury, I was aiming to be back for the end of the season, I was aiming to get maybe one or two games. The fact that they [the coaching staff] didn’t really want to rush it has obviously helped me.
“When you’re training every day, you want to get to a Saturday and play games. The fact I was training for about a month [at the end of last season], I felt I was ready but I wasn’t probably quite ready to be back playing, but I do think the gaffer was right and it did definitely make me a bit hungrier. Me and the injured lads were in over the summer and it looks like it’s paying off now.”
The forward has also been spurred on by the competition for places in the squad and knowing that shirts are up for grabs for the opening Championship game away to Millwall next month.
“I think the good thing is that all the attackers bring something different to the table and the gaffer has said that in the past and changed teams, even if we’ve won a Saturday, he’ll change it to see what we’ve come up against.
“The fact that we’ve got five or six different kinds of attackers I think helps us massively. When it goes into the league games, you come up against different sorts of opposition who defend differently.
“Even though you’re all fighting for that one spot or two spots, I think it’s helpful that there’s different types of players who can do different roles in the team, even though you want to be the one who gets the space.
“At the end of the day it’s the manager who makes the decisions and you’ve just got to work as hard as you can to get in there.”
Next up for North End is the visit of Southampton to Deepdale on Saturday afternoon, a game that will offer Bodin the chance to make his first outing at the home of PNE since suffering his injury almost a year ago.
“It’s massive for me, I think the last time I played there was the Burnley game and the West Ham one a couple of days before,” he added.
“I can’t wait to get back there and play again. It was 12 months ago so it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while.
“It will be nice to go back to Deepdale and try to put on a good performance with the lads, we’re obviously up against a good team and it’s going to be a good test for us.”