Exclusive Billy Bodin PNE column: Honour to make my Wales debut in China

Beating Kasey Palmer to the ball in the game against Derby on Easter Monday
Beating Kasey Palmer to the ball in the game against Derby on Easter Monday

I was fortunate enough to make my debut for Wales during the international break and it was a great experience to play against Uruguay in China.

The whole 10-day trip was very enjoyable and I got plenty out of it.

Wales’ first game was against the hosts China who probably weren’t as good as we thought they were going to be and we won 6-0.

Then we played Uruguay who had their best players on show, Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez both played.

I came on for the last 25 minutes which was a good test for me – it wasn’t just a late run in stoppage time or anything like that.

Uruguay won 1-0 and their class showed in the end, I thought.

Often, your international trips are to somewhere in Europe, so to go all the way to China was a bit different.

It was a 12-hour flight over there, a change in Hong Kong and on to Nanning where the two games were played.

We didn’t get to see too much of the city, it was not really in a tourist area.

I did a bit of community work, doing some coaching with local kids, while we had the usual team walks near the hotel.

There were a lot of fans around, most of them there to see Gareth Bale – safe to say no one recognised me!

Something which a lot of attention was paid to was the time difference and limiting the effect of that.

The time difference is eight hours and that can lead to jet-lag.

What we did was to try and work on a difference of four hours.

It meant we had breakfast at 1pm, went training, had lunch around 6pm and then dinner at 10.30pm.

That might sound a bit odd but it worked very well and I didn’t have any jet-lag after the journey there or the flight back.

The trip was Ryan Giggs’ first as Wales manager. He was one of my idols when I was growing up so to be in his first squad was good.

We had a lot of tactical meetings so that he could get his message across about how he wanted Wales to play.

The training was tactics-based rather than just your usual type of session.

I was fortunate enough to know quite a few of the Wales squad, so it wasn’t a case of being the new kid on his own.

Chris Maxwell was with me, while I knew lads from when I played for the Wales Under-21s side.

There was also someone from my former club Bristol Rovers.

I mentioned Gareth Bale earlier and obviously he is someone who attracts lots of attention.

He plays for a huge club in Real Madrid and his talent is there for all to see.

Gareth is a nice lad to be around, he’s quite quiet and reserved but mixes with all the players.

During the China trip it was my 26th birthday and there was a little party for me in which they gave me a birthday cake.

My focus is now firmly on trying to help Preston get into the play-offs.

We had a disappointing Easter with the defeats to Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County.

What we have to do is put those behind us and give our attention to the six games ahead of us.

The first of those is against Reading and we will be looking to bounce back at the Madejski Stadium.

After the Derby game, the manager told us that as long as we get our results right, that is all we can do.

There is nothing we can do about how other teams are going , we just have to look after ourselves.

The games coming up are winnable and if we can put a run together, we will be there or thereabouts.

I came on as a substitute in the Derby game and the manager always tells his subs to try and make an impact.

I thought I did quite well, I had a shot which caught a deflection and went through to the keeper.

Later I put in a cross which the keeper punched to Paul Gallagher and he got a bit too much on his shot.

On another day, those things might have happened a bit differently.

We will still be confident going into the Reading game.

Our away form has been very good this season and we seem to have played away a lot since I signed.

After Reading, we then have to quickly get ready to play Leeds at home.

Hopefully we can get two good results and be right in there.

It’s three months since I joined Preston and I’ve got to say that I’ve settled in really well.

The other lads were very welcoming from the start and this is a good squad to be part of.

I’m still in a hotel but I’ve found a place to live and will be moving in at the end of the season, all being well.