Billy Bodin hopes his display for Preston North End at Reading signalled a return to form after a decent dip.
PNE’s No.39 admitted that the intensity of playing in the Championship had caught up with him somewhat last month.
After a number of starts following his £500,000 move from Bristol Rovers, he was named on the bench for five games recently.
Restored to the team at the Madejski Stadium, he was North End’s best player in the 1-0 defeat.
Bodin forced an early save from Royals keeper Vito Mannone and later sent over the cross which Sean Maguire headed against the bar.
In the closing minutes, he cut inside from the wing and sent a low shot inches wide of the far post.
Bodin said: “It was good to be back in the starting XI and it was probably one of my better games for Preston.
“The manager had said that the league might have caught up with me and he is right, to be fair.
The running I had been doing in games was a lot tougher than I had been used to and maybe I had a lack of confidence going into a few of the matches.
“I had a few weeks out of the team on the bench which helped me to recharge.
“Hopefully I can stay in the team and help the lads out.”
Bodin joined North End in early January and has made 12 starts and three sub appearances. Like any new signing who steps up a level, Bodin was driven by adrenaline in the first few weeks.
The 26-year-old said: “I got into the team straight away and that was a real buzz.
“It was probably that buzz which got me through it as I tried to get used to the club and what the gaffer wanted.
“I’m a lot more used to it now and I want to push up from here.
“I’ll be honest and say my form dipped, that was the reason the manager changed it.”
The defeat at Reading was North End’s third on the spin, a run which has all but ended their play-off hopes.
However the attitude in the dressing room is that the top six is still within reach, even if the chances of that happening look remote.
A victory against Leeds at Deepdale on Tuesday night would be a much-needed shove in the right direction.
Said Bodin: “We’ve just got to focus on ourselves.
“The manager has told us not to be worrying about other teams’ results, just to do our jobs.
“If we can get some wins and others slip up, who knows what might happen?
“I thought we played well at Reading on Saturday and if we can produce that type of performance again, we are capable of winning.
“The manager said to us after the game that we were the width of the post away from things going our way.
“We hit the woodwork twice and had some other good chances during the game.
“If we had taken the chances, we could have won quite comfortably. We play Leeds next, which is a massive game for us in context of where we are up to.
“Leeds have been slightly hit and miss this season but they are still a good side with some very good players.
“We’ll go against them with our game-plan and see where that takes us.”
Bodin came back into the side on the right wing against Reading, a role which gives him the opportunity to cut inside on his favoured left foot.
He is comfortable on his right foot too,which was shown by the cross he put in for Maguire which the Irishman headed against the crossbar.
The game-plan against Reading involved a lot of service out to wide areas.
Bodin said: “The gaffer told myself and Tom Barkhuizen to stay out as wide as we could.
“When the lads found us with passes it was about getting as many crosses into the box as we could.
“During the game we put more than 20 crosses in and we created chances that way.
“It was just frustrating that we couldn’t turn those chances into the goals which we deserved.
“When I got the ball wide it was about hitting a certain area because their defence was quite high.”
Bodin recently won his first senior cap for Wales – the birthplace of his dad Paul.
It came against Uruguay in China, Bodin coming on as a 67th-minute substitute.
He said: “It was a good trip with Wales to China.
“To make my debut was a proud moment, it was a good experience to play alongside Gareth Bale and players from the Premier League.
“I’ll use the experience to improve as a player, try and take a few things which I learned from the training and the game I played in.
“Hopefully I can make the squad for the next set of games in the summer.
“But my focus now is just on Preston and trying to help us get results.”