Exclusive Billy Bodin PNE column

Having a shot against Millwall at The Den last week
Having a shot against Millwall at The Den last week

I have not played at Deepdale before so hopefully I will be involved in the Birmingham game and have the experience of playing in front of the Preston supporters at such a great ground.

My first two matches were away at Wycombe and Millwall and it was good to start both and for us to get decent results from them.

We won very well against Wycombe to get through to the next round of the FA Cup, playing some really nice football.

The Millwall game last week was a bit tougher for me than the Wycombe tie had been.

I didn’t get on the ball as much and play as well as I had wanted.

Last season I had played for Bristol Rovers against Millwall and I knew what a hard place that was to get a result.

As a team in the first half we didn’t play great, didn’t really do what the manager had asked us to do.

Sometimes the manager has to change things and I came off at half-time.

But the way I see it was that I got my first minutes in the Championship and it is all about adapting to this level as quickly as possible.

It was an easy decision to sign for Preston a couple of weeks ago.

The manager was great when I met him, very straightforward.

He spoke about how I like to play, how he liked Preston to play and that we suited each other.

Alex Neil said he wanted me on board and for me to get into the team as quickly as possible – to play like I had been doing at Bristol Rovers.

He tells it how it is and that is good to hear – he had watched me a few times and was very positive about what he wanted from me. I’ve 
settled in easily over the last fortnight.

During my career I’ve moved clubs a few times so I’m used to staying in hotels for a few weeks and getting to know my new team-mates in the dressing room.

They are a good bunch of lads at Preston, we have a good laugh and there are no cliques – it is very together.

It is very similar to the Bristol Rovers dressing room in that regard and has made settling-in easy.

You don’t want a situation where you’ve got lads who will sometimes speak to you and sometimes not – that can happen at some clubs.

Having an away game and an overnight stop within a couple of days of signing meant I got my initiation song out of the way quickly.

I did a bit of Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me’ which I’ve done a few times in my career.

It seemed to go down well with the lads and it was good to get it over and done with.

Preston are the sixth club I have played for and also the furthest north.

I started my career with Swindon, coming through their academy.

After playing some first-team football there, I had loan spells at Torquay and then Crewe.

Swindon offered me a new contract but Paolo Di Canio who was the manager at the time, told me I wouldn’t be playing too much.

I was only 19 or 20 at the time, at an age and stage of my career where I needed to be playing.

So I signed for Torquay and had two years down in Devon.

Unfortunately, in the last few months there I did the anterior cruciate ligament in my knee and was out for about a year.

I left Torquay when still recovering from it and being without a club when you are injured is hard. Luckily, Northampton let me finish my rehab with them and were very good with me.

I signed for them the next January until the end of that season when I had regained my fitness.

Unfortunately I picked up a few niggles here and there and only played a few games for Northampton.

I then signed for Bristol Rovers in August 2015 and went on to have a great two-and-a-half-years. Their 
manager Darrell Clarke gave me the licence to express myself and that helped me so much. They won promotion from League Two in my first season and finished ninth in League One last season.

I’ve had three promotions in my career, with the other two coming at Swindon and Crewe when I was on loan.

I’ve seen the other side of it too, with two relegations, which weren’t nice.

I’ll always be grateful to the people at Bristol Rovers for putting faith in me and I loved my time there.

Hopefully I can do just as well here at Preston and push on.

This is my first taste of the Championship and it will take some getting used to.

It will be tough but I’ll work very hard to adapt and I’m confident I will.

My aim is to help get this club to where it is striving to be.