Alex Neil tells Preston North End winger Billy Bodin to work on staying power

Billy Bodin could be needed up front against Brentford today
Billy Bodin could be needed up front against Brentford today

Alex Neil says a challenge for Preston winger Billy Bodin is to bolster his energy levels and push himself nearer to the end of games.

Bodin, 27, has caught the eye this season after missing all of the last campaign with a damaged cruciate ligament.

However, he has played a full 90 minutes just once, in the 3-0 win over Wigan Athletic a month ago.

He has been substituted in his four other starts, while he has come off the bench in two other games.

The fact Bodin missed a year of football is no doubt why his stamina levels aren’t quite at where Neil wants them.

Neil said: “If you look at the games we have played I have generally taken Billy off about the hour mark.

“I think he has started to tail off in games about that point so I’ve changed things. That is something we have been working hard with Billy about – making sure that is a side of his game he improves.

“His performances on the pitch have been very good, it is just the tailing off which he needs to change.

“How you can improve your fitness levels is to drive through the fatigue you get.

“We want Billy out there for a longer period because he is such a good player for us.”

Bodin was a substitute on the opening day at Millwall, joining the action in the 57th minute.

He lasted the course in the Wigan game and against Swansea stayed on until the 81st minute.

In the 3-1 win over Stoke in which Bodin scored, he was subbed after 59 minutes.

Three days later against Sheffield Wednesday, Bodin came off at the hour mark.

He was a 69th-minute sub in the League Cup win over Hull, scoring a penalty in the shootout.

In the last outing against Nottingham Forest two weeks ago, Bodin fired North End in front and was replaced in the 65th minute.

With more games and training, Bodin will build up his stamina.

It might well be that he is needed to play up front again today against Brentford, as he did at Forest.

North End are without three strikers at the moment – Sean Maguire, David Nugent and Louis Moult.

Tom Barkhuizen, another option to play up front, is also sidelined.

Against Forest, Neil played Bodin as the central striker, with Josh Harrop and Brad Potts on the wings.

Jayden Stockley, the one available striker, came on in the second half.

Nugent is back in training after a calf injury but today’s game comes too soon.

It might be that he gets a run in the Lancashire Senior Cup game against Chorley at Victory Park on Tuesday night (7pm).