Boss Alex Neil on what forward Billy Bodin will offer Preston North End

PNE's Billy Bodin (photo: Getty Images)
PNE's Billy Bodin (photo: Getty Images)

Preston boss Alex Neil had predicted double figures of goals from Billy Bodin last season until a knee injury ended his campaign before it had even started.

Neil uses Callum Robinson as a marker in terms of what he thought winger Bodin had to offer to the PNE team.

The Wales international ruptured a cruciate ligament four days before the start of last season and did not kick a ball throughout 2018/19.

However, he returned to training in the last few weeks of the campaign and will be ready to start pre-season at the end of June.

Neil told the Post: “We were expecting big things of Billy last season.

“I fully expected him to be in the realms of what Callum did in terms of scoring double figures of goals.

“He would have given us some real flexibility up front and been a handful.

“I think back to when we played at Nottingham Forest soon after we signed him and we won 3-0.

“We had Billy coming in off the right, Tom Barkhuizen on the left and Callum down the middle – we also rotated them and they caused Forest so many problems.”

Neil ideally would want a winger with plenty of pace down one side of the pitch and someone with more trickery on the other.

Without Bodin, Neil had Robinson and Barkhuizen as a decent balance.

But when Robinson was out in the middle section of last season, it was more about pace on both wings.

Said Neil: “Callum and Tom gave us good balance.

“Tom threatened in behind as a powerful runner, while Callum would nip in from the sides, get into pockets and be more threatening on the ball.

“When we lost Callum to injury we had the pace of Brandon Barker and Lukas Nmecha but we really needed another guy who could drift into space and get on the ball.

“Billy Bodin will be able to do that – technically he’s a very good player.

“He can take the ball into tight areas, use it from there, go past players without having to use pace like Tom would.

“What we get from him too is that he can deliver great crosses into the box left or right footed – he has a knack of getting a penalty or two.

“Billy can relieve pressure when teams play on top of us, stay on the ball like Callum does for a good 30 seconds, get us up the pitch.

“Him and Josh Harrop, who we lost to the same injury in the first few weeks, looked very good when they were back in training.

“What we did was give them a mini pre-season and then they’ll come back and do a full pre-season with us.

“They are working during the holidays to make sure they come back strengthened up.”