Dave Seddon's Preston North End Press View: Pre-season goals were the highlight for Billy Bodin at Deepdale

Billy Bodin bid an official farewell to Preston North End this week when he signed a one-year contract with Oxford United.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 4:45 pm

Billy Bodin bid an official farewell to Preston North End this week when he signed a one-year contract with Oxford United.

The goodbyes had been said in May when Bodin was informed he wouldn’t be kept on at Deepdale after a three-and-a-half year stay.

Only rarely was Bodin able to show what he was all about in a North End shirt, injuries in the main seeing to that.

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Billy Bodin scores for Preston North End against West Ham at Deepdale in July 2018
Billy Bodin scores for Preston North End against West Ham at Deepdale in July 2018

That was a really shame because there was a player in there, a ‘baller’ as I saw him referred to by a PNE fan on Twitter the other day.

Bodin headed to his new seat of learning at Oxford having made 44 appearances for the Lilywhites, 30 of those starts.

Those figures perhaps underline how injuries frustrated him.

Two moments Bodin will be best remembered for by North End supporters both came in pre-season, 12 months apart.

Billy Bodin goes past a Southampton defender in the build-up to scoring at Deepdale in July 2019

He found the net against Premier League opposition in West Ham and Southampton in friendlies at Deepdale.

The first against the Hammers was the best of the pair, that’s not to down play the one in the Saints game by any stretch.

Andrew Hughes played a 60 yard ball out of his own half from left to right.

Bodin controlled it on his instep just outside the box, left Declan Rice – currently in Rome attempting to bring football home – in his wake before slipping a shot past West Ham keeper Adrian.

A fortnight later, Bodin tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a training drill.

It happened five days before the 2018/19 season started and he didn’t kick a ball in anger that campaign.

Bodin was coming back from that injury when he played against Southampton a year on.

Cutting inside from the right-wing on to his left foot, he reached the side of the box and curled a fine finish into the far corner.

In competitive action, Bodin scored four goals for North End.

Two of them were against Nottingham Forest, both at the City Ground.

The first was in his fourth appearance after joining in a £500,000 move from Bristol Rovers, opening the scoring in a 3-0 midweek win.

Early in the 2019/20 season, Bodin found the net in a 3-1 win against Stoke under the Deepdale lights.

Two games later, he put PNE ahead at Forest and stuffed the football under his shirt to signal that his better half was expecting a baby.

Bodin’s fourth and final Preston goal was in January 2020, that coming in a 4-2 defeat to Norwich City in the FA Cup.

Going back to his injury woes at PNE, the damaged cruciate ligament was the worse of the lot.

When a full season is written off, the seriousness is plain to see.

Not too long before the game shutdown early last year, Bodin had surgery to remove some floating bone from his Achilles tendon.

He returned in time for the restart games to come off the bench a few times.

Last season, the Wales international had a spell out after cartilage surgery on his knee.

A clean start is what Bodin needs and he now has that at Oxford, a club with promotion ambitions in League One.

I hope he can get a long run of games there and indeed some good fortune.

After three visits to the operating theatre while a PNE player, Bodin deserves an injury-free spell in this next stage of his career.

He has got a year’s deal at Oxford, low risk on The U’s part you would think.

One debate about his time at North End was whether he was always properly utilised.

Often Bodin played on the right, with licence to come inside and impact the game that way.

Only occasionally was he played centrally. The second time he scored against Forest Bodin operated as the main striker – injuries to others handing him his chance.

The chapter is closed now and I wish all the luck as he turns the page and heads to the Kassam Stadium.

On the day Bodin’s time as a Lilywhites player officially came to an end, they welcomed a new signing in Matthew Olosunde.

The right-back is PNE’s first American boy for a good while, following in the footsteps of Brian McBride, Eddie Lewis, Eddie Johnson and Jemal Johnson.

Lewis was the only permanent signing of that quartet, the others here on loan to varying degrees or otherwise of success.

Olosunde’s journey from Philadelphia to Preston has been via Manchester United and Rotherham.

He’s got some experience at Championship level in the shape of last season’s adventure at Rotherham, one which ended cruelly with a final day relegation.

Before that came a League One promotion campaign with the Millers.

United had got him as a teenager after Olosunde had been on the books of New York Red Bulls.

He played for United’s Under-18s and Under-23s before heading over the hills to Rotherham’s New York Stadium.

Olosunde completes the Lilywhites’ defensive recruitment – a loan deal for Leicester goalkeeper Daniel Iversen is good to go later in pre-season.

Frankie McAvoy certainly has plenty of options at the back.

Together with Olosunde there’s Jordan Storey, Liam Lindsay, Patrick Bauer, Andrew Hughes, Sepp van den Berg, Paul Huntington, Greg Cunningham, Joe Rafferty and Josh Earl.

Whether McAvoy plays with three at the back or a four, there’s going to be a few not playing.

Of course there are injuries, suspensions, loss of form and team shape to take into consideration.

Midfield too is well stocked, so it leaves the striker search as the big focus during the course of the transfer window.

We’ve been here before in terms of the hunt for someone to put the ball in the net, they are the ones hardest to find and cost top dollar.