New boy Billy Bodin hopes he will be perfect fit for Alex Neil's Preston
New boy Billy Bodin believes he is the perfect fit for Alex Neil's Preston North End.
The former Bristol Rovers forward became the second new arrival at Deepdale in the opening days of the January transfer window when his move was confirmed on Wednesday night.
PNE have shelled out a fee believed to be around the £400,000 mark for a wide attacker who has been on their radar for some time having starred during his spell at the Memorial Stadium.
He arrives with 11 goals so far this campaign having scored 13 in each of the last two seasons.
Watching from afar before speaking to his new manager, the Swindon-born 25-year-old is confident North End’s set-up is tailor-made for him to show what he can do in the Championship.
“I think the football definitely suits me,” said Bodin, speaking ahead of his first training session with his new team-mates on Thursday morning.
“Speaking to the manager and watching a few of the games this season, it’s attractive football and hopefully I can gel with the lads help the team out as much as I can.
“The style of play, the work-rate and how the lads operate was one of the main things that attracted me.
“The manager’s just told me to come in and try and do what I’ve been doing.
“For me that’s been playing on the right-hand side and cutting in on to my left.
“If that’s what the gaffer wants from me then that’s what I’ll try and do.”
Preston have been keen to secure his signature since the summer and Bodin fits the bill when it comes to Neil’s desire to strengthen his attacking options at the start of 2018, prolific striker Louis Moult also having joined from Motherwell.
The initial interest back in August did not result in a move but Bodin certainly got his head down for Darrell Clarke’s side.
However with his contract expiring in the summer, the Gas always had an uphill task when it came to keeping hold of their prize asset.
Neil was in the stand to watch his new recruit score his final goal for Rovers in a 1-1 draw at Oldham on Saturday, December 30.
“I didn’t know he was watching at the time but he’s told me he was there, which is nice,” said Bodin.
“I was aware there was a bit of an interest at the end of the last window.
“I think Bristol Rovers turned down a couple of bids and I found out literally this week that another bid had been put in and I got the phone call a few days ago and got told to get myself up for Wednesday.
“I thought I might be signing and then going back but the gaffer wanted me in training the next morning.
“It’s mad how quickly it’s all happened but it’s part of football.
“It’s a whole month I’ve got with the team and it’s a lot better than just turning up on the last day of the transfer window when it’s only got over the line at the last minute.
“Thankfully for me it was done early and I can just concentrate on my football now.
“I’m very excited and just can’t wait to get started now.
“It’s a new challenge for me and hopefully I can pick up from where I left off at Bristol Rovers and, hopefully, help out Preston North End as much as I can.”
The West Country is where Bodin’s career really took off.
After starting out at hometown club Swindon before being deemed surplus to requirements by Paolo Di Canio, a spell at Torquay was cut short by a knee injury.
Bodin – a Wales Under-19s and Under-21s team-mate of Deepdale goalkeeper Chris Maxwell’s – then played just four games after a move to Northampton before Rovers became his home.
The left-footer helped the Pirates to promotion from League Two, then going on to establish himself as one of the top talents in the third tier.
“I was at Swindon to start with and was doing well as a young lad,” Bodin said.
“Di Canio came in and didn’t really see me in his plans so I ended up going to Torquay where I picked up a few injuries.
“That slowed down my career for a year or two.
“It was only when I went to Bristol Rovers and we got promoted the first year and had a good season that things got going.
“Last year I got the same number of goals as my first year and I’ve started this season well.
“Since I’ve been at Bristol, that’s where you’ve seen the best of me and hopefully that can carry on.”
Bodin has been brought in to add competition in the final third, Neil’s main priority in this window as PNE bid to kick on towards the Championship play-offs, currently ninth after a first defeat in 10 against Middlesbrough on New Year’s Day.
Able to play across the frontline, Preston fans are mostly likely to see their new No.39 operate from a wide position.
“When I was younger I always played off a bigger striker,” he said.
“As the years have gone on I’ve drifted wider and just like to get in pockets and get at defences and sort of run at markers or the back four.
“It’s always nice to have a bit of competition.
“There are a lot of good players here and I’m going to have to fight for my place.
“Of course it’s something that you want in football.
“You want to be pushed and I’m no different to anyone else.”
Bodin is likely to be given his first taste of PNE action at Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.
Having been injured as Rovers exited the competition at the opening stage with a 4-2 defeat at Notts County in November, North End have swerved the only barrier that would have stopped their new face making his Lilywhites debut at Adams Park.
“I missed the cup game for Bristol Rovers due to injury so thankfully I’m not cup-tied and am available to play,” said Bodin.
“It would be nice to get some minutes on Saturday to get going.”