Since signing for Aston Villa in January 2017, James Bree has barely started a game. With just 13 appearances in over a season and a half of action, Bree hasn’t really had a chance to shine, or showcase the reasons why Villa moved in for him.
The position of the full-back is growing increasingly critical to the sport, and Bree’s development is crucial for Aston Villa’s success. There has to be a point where push comes to shove and James Bree gets regular game time to develop - or he won’t. Maybe that’s on him, maybe there’s a reason why he hasn’t got himself picked for games when there is a clear opening at left-back (not his natural position, but one he is adept at) and when there is every reason for competition for the right-back position. Even as a centre-back, it seems like Bree will only be called upon in a crisis. Last season, the on-loan defender Axel Tuanzebe seemed much preferred over Bree.
It makes Bree, with a few other January 2017 signings look downright odd. While he’s only 20, Bree has found football very hard to come by at Aston Villa. For that reason, you have to think that this could be his year - but will Villa let him play football?