Preston North End winger Billy Bodin’s unexpected bonus due to lockdown

It wouldn’t be quite right to say that Billy Bodin is thankful for the football season running into the summer but it has meant a quicker return to the pitch than expected for the Preston North End winger.

By Dave Seddon
Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 12:30 pm

When the 28-year-old had surgery to remove a piece of floating bone from his lower leg in February, that should have been season over.

Any other year, Bodin would have done his rehab and worked through the summer break in a bid to be firing on all cylinders for the start of pre-season training.

This is 2020 though, a time when the world is trying to beat Covid-19.

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Billy Bodin scores for Preston against Norwich in the FA Cup in January – a few days later he suffered an injury in training

Lockdown meant that the Championship season only resumed 11 days ago after a three-month pause and it will go on until July 22. The hope of Bodin and his PNE team-mates is that it will stretch further for a shot at the play-offs.

Bodin is now fully fit, a little rusty perhaps in terms of match sharpness, but nevertheless in a position to play a part in the remainder of the 2019/20 campaign.

He got on as a late sub at Luton on the day the season restarted and watched the home defeat to Cardiff on Saturday from the bench as an unused sub.

Perhaps there will be more game time for him when North End take on Derby County at Deepdale today (5pm).

The creativity and versatility Bodin can offer could be useful as the Lilywhites look to find a winning forumla after something of a barren run either side of lockdown.

Bodin’s injury issue can be traced back to January when he got a knock from a tackle in training, that in the week after he’d scored for PNE in the FA Cup against Norwich.

“It was a nothing tackle from Josh Harrop, I hardly felt a thing,” said Bodin.

“The next day it was a bit painful. When I got it checked out they found a little bit of bone had chipped off my heel.

“That was floating about and every time I tried some running the area would become inflamed.

“It turned into a cyst and the harder I was working the worse it got.

“After a few weeks I went to see a specialist who said they would need to whip that bit of bone out.

“They did that and thankfully it seems to have done the job because I’ve felt good since.

“I thought I would miss the rest of the season and normally I would have done.

“The fact Covid came along and has stayed around for all this time helped me to get back this season.

“Like everyone else, I wish Covid hadn’t been around and we’d been all living our lives normally.

“That is what has happened though, and I’m available to play a part this season which wasn’t going to be the case.”

Bodin became a dad just after he got injured, the spell recovering and then lockdown enabling him to spend a lot of time with son Bobby.

He said: “He arrived three days after I was injured.

“I was able to spend a lot of time with him in that first few weeks and then there was the lockdown period at home too.”

With a clean bill of health, Bodin’s focus is on trying to help PNE secure a play-off place over the coming weeks.

No wins in five have led to North End releasing their grip on sixth place, Cardiff’s win at Deepdale ultimately seeing to that.

In Derby, they face another team who have risen up into the play-off mix.

The Rams’ push upwards has been aided greatly by the signing of Wayne Rooney and it goes without saying that the former England skipper will take some policing in the teatime clash.

Said Bodin: “I saw some stat about how many points they had picked up since Rooney came in and it’s good.

“Before he came in Derby were still a decent side. They played well against us at their place.

“With Rooney in their team they can play some good football or go a bit longer up to Chris Martin.

“This is a massive game for us and we are at the stage where you need to be winning all the time.

“You can’t just settle for a draw now, you need three points.

“We’ve got to try and attack this game, get a win and push on.

“Rooney has been playing a slightly deeper role, we have seen clips of him in the build-up and we all know what a great player he is.”

Bodin can play wide or through the middle and is ready for whatever task is asked of him – whether it be a start or from the bench.

“When we came back for training in May, the manager said we would all get to play a part,” said Bodin.

“We’ve played twice now and now we are hitting the midweek games.

“Everyone in the squad has to be ready when an opportunity comes. We need to get the Cardiff game out of our minds and get a win against Derby.”