Billy Bodin’s return to action after a year out and his bright performances in Preston’s first two friendlies have come as a big boost in the build-up to the new season.
The winger has enjoyed 45 minute run-outs in the games against Bamber Bridge and Cork City, his form catching the eye of PNE supporters.
There will be sterner tests to come for Bodin and his North End team-mates but being back on the pitch after missing all of last season with a knee injury is a blessing for the 27-year-old.
Bodin told the Lancashire Post: “It’s been a long process and getting on the pitch again is a big box ticked.
“I was looking to get on the ball as much as I could and have taken on board what the gaffer has been telling me.
“When I first signed here, I probably didn’t do as much as I thought I could. I wanted the ball to feet but I was coming up a league and you need to work to make that happen.
“The gaffer said I have to do more running off the ball to get into the positions where I can get on the ball.
“That is something I’ve been trying to do.
“The game at Bamber Bridge was important, it was nice to play again.
“After a long-term injury, the mental side of it is the big one really.
“When you start playing you quickly forget about the injury.
“It’s good to be up against players who don’t know what you are going to do, they will go in and compete for the ball.
“They might give you a bit of a push or a nudge and that’s good to get.
“I remember back to when I injured my knee earlier in my career.
“In my first game back there was a 50/50 ball to go for and I went in for. After I’d done that I felt great. My knee feels normal, the quad muscle can sometimes feel a bit different but that is with the rehab work, all the pushing off from that leg.
“Once you warm up and get the blood flowing around it, everything feels fine.”
Bodin is with North End’s squad at Fota Island this week, the players returning to face AFC Fylde on Saturday.
In general he has enjoyed the pre-season training, however the really enjoyable part are the matches.
Said Bodin: “All players are different, some can run all day and do longer distances while others are better with the shorter runs.
“I don’t think any player 100 per cent enjoys it but it is part of being a professional and you get it done.
“The footballs came out early for us, although we’ve had plenty of running to do.
“This is my ninth or 10th pre-season as a professional and now we are into the run of friendlies, you really start focusing on the season.”