Exclusive Billy Bodin Preston North End column: I’m on the road back to fitness

Scoring against West Ham at Deepdale in pre-season
Scoring against West Ham at Deepdale in pre-season

I am pleased to say that things are going well in my recovery from the knee injury which I suffered in training a few days before the start of the season.

It is 17 weeks since I had the operation and I’m now able to do some jogging on the Alter-G machine which allows you to run but takes the weight off the injury.

The next stage after that will be to move outside and start doing some running on the grass.

I miss playing football so much but it’s great to be back running and knowing this is another small step forward in getting fully fit.

It’s the anterior cruciate ligament in my right knee which I damaged five days or so before the season started.

It happened in training when I did a step-over and my studs got caught as I went to push off.

I slipped a little bit, my knee came inside of me and I just heard a big pop.

Straight away I knew it was my ACL as I’d done it before.

That had happened six years ago with the same knee and is just one of those things.

Even if I hadn’t had the same injury before, I think I would have done my ACL this time because of the way the studs got caught.

They say your knee is three times as strong coming back after surgery and doing all the rehab – I was just very unlucky this time.

After my first ACL injury six years ago, I managed to push on, play a lot of football and get my move here.

What is a bit frustrating is that the injury came after I’d had a good pre-season.

In my first few months here last season, I didn’t think I showed as much of my potential as I would have liked.

Maybe that was because I was getting used to a new club and the standard of the Championship.

So with a good pre-season under my belt, I was looking forward to getting a run of games and showing what I was all about.

It was a tough pre-season, we all worked hard and I felt fitter than before.

Suspension was going to rule me out of the first game of the season so my focus was on the second match.

A big part of coming back from a long-term injury is getting your head around it.

I think the first time I hurt my knee, it was tougher 
mentally than physically.

This time because it was the second injury, I got my head sorted quickly and set about doing what I needed to do to get back.

Josh Harrop suffered the same injury a couple of months after mine.

I was at the same age as him when I had the first knee injury so I feel his pain.

You’ve got to try and enjoy the rehab work, if you don’t you might come into work with the wrong attitude.

It’s a good spirit here, a strong dressing room, and we help each other along.

After surgery on the ACL, it is tough to straighten and bend the leg.

The first part of rehab is about getting the movement back and the flexibility.

After three months or so, you start doing more of the gym work to build-up the muscles around the knee.

Once you’ve done that work, you move on to running on the Alter-G and then outside on the grass.

There are some different hurdles to jump so to speak at different stages.

My next aim is to be able to run outside, get some fresh air – mind you, the gym is cold enough anyway! In terms of a timescale as to playing again, it is hard to put a date on it.

After the operation, the surgeon said it would be more towards the end of the season.

I haven’t really set myself a target – if it takes a few extra weeks or a couple less, then that is how it is.

If I could get back before the end of the season, either training or playing, that would be great. People recover from these things at different rates.

Zlatan Ibrahimović took six months to get back from this injury – you wouldn’t expect anything less from him!

I had a slight meniscus tear as well, so that had to be sorted out and might add a bit more time.

My operation was done in London at a hospital where a few of the lads here have been treated previously.

Callum Robinson has his operation there last week and it’s a hospital which a lot of Premier League clubs use.

On Saturday, Preston play Nottingham Forest at the City Ground, a venue where I scored my first goal for the club in January.

That was a great night and it would be good if the lads could go there and get the same result this time.

We were in good form until last week and hopefully we can get on another run.