When he walked through the doors at Bodymoor Heath over a year ago in the January transfer window, James Bree was the player that was hoped that would grow to be the solution to Villa’s troublesome position of right-back.
MOMS actually welcomed him to Villa in person with a good luck handshake, having been passing through Bodymoor on the day he signed. The player had just turned 19, so despite making an impact in Barnsley’s team at the time, in Villa terms, was one for the future, although not too distant.
Steve Bruce announced today at the pre-Bolton game press conference that Bree would be playing at left-back for Villa’s trip to the Macron Stadium. Both Neil Taylor and Alan Hutton are injured for the match, so Bree will switch ala Hutton from his preferred right-hand side.
Since signing, Bree has hardly featured in a Villa jersey. Villa started this season with so many players that could play right-back you needed to use an extra hand to count them. They even got an extra one in during the latest January window, with Axel Tuanzebe coming in on loan from Manchester United.
Tuanzebe’s loan signing certainly raised eyebrows when it came to Bree. If Bree, who was signed by Bruce, was the future of Villa, what were Villa getting in a United youngster of the same age for to benefit from game time?
Bree had played over 25 games in the Championship and could only benefit from more.
It would be a clear indication that Bruce didn’t fancy Bree at this moment in time.
Having watched Bree a couple of times this season at U-23 level, he hasn’t exactly stood out as a man amongst boys, so to speak.
Still, the best way to grow is to get on the pitch and he’s a player that has attracted plaudits for being a tidy full-back going forward, which is exactly what Villa need, now as well as in the future.