Brought in from Barnsley in January 2017, James Bree has made a handful of first team appearances already at Villa Park, despite being the tender age of 20, and hasn’t looked too out of place when called upon, so is he ready to stake a claim to be a regular in the starting 11?
The Argument for Including James Bree
The youngster made 7 appearances in the 2017/18 season, including the hostile Play Off Semi Final second leg at home to Middlesbrough, and overall has looked an assured and capable full back. Relatively composed on the ball, Bree seems to already have a decent understanding of the position he is playing in, and playing with the likes of John Terry for a season would have done that knowledge no harm. He should be heading into this pre-season feeling relatively confident within himself that he can stake a claim to get more regular game time in Aston Villa’s 3rd successive Championship campaign, with the likes of Hutton and De Laet still not certain to be at Villa Park next year. The full back played on both sides of defence last term and even came awfully close to scoring a clever header in the snow away at Bolton, so has already shown to Steve Bruce and the fans that he can make a difference to the team and can be the go-to player in that full back position. James Bree filled in nicely when called upon last season but it is time that he starts getting picked to start games, as he shows his capability when he does play.
Bree was called out by some fans as being the weak link after Villa’s Play Off Semi Final second leg draw with Middlesbrough, but being such a young and inexperienced player in those circumstances, I would say he performed exceptionally well, and it could have been much worse for him. After the nervy first few minutes, James Bree settled down and looked right at home in the Villa back-line, although it was no surprise that he then lost his spot for the final with Elmohamady being one of Bruce’s preferred players. To think he is only 20 years old and his only other professional experience came at Barnsley, James Bree has settled into Villa effortlessly and has always been in the manager’s thoughts, even if it is as a late reserve such as in the game at home to Cardiff where he wasn’t involved 5 minutes before kick-off but ended up playing 70 minutes, and contributing to a brilliant win.
James Bree seems to have a very level head on his shoulders and his work rate can never be questioned, which is one thing that fans absolutely love. Given a run of games, there is every chance that he can become a real fan-favourite at Villa park. With hunger to spare and willingness to show everybody what he’s about, he will always give 100% to grasp his opportunity, which is why Steve Bruce could do a lot worse than to start picking James Bree regularly for Aston Villa.