Aston Villa season in review: James Bree

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: James Bree of Aston Villa during the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Aston Villa at Craven Cottage on April 17, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: James Bree of Aston Villa during the Sky Bet Championship match between Fulham and Aston Villa at Craven Cottage on April 17, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images) /
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Aston Villa beat several Premier League stalwarts, including Manchester City and Liverpool, for James Bree’s signature back in January. He’s only 19, but how did Bree fair in his short few months in Birmingham?

RB – James Bree, 19

Appearances: 7

WhoScored Aggregate: 6.61

Steve Bruce was desperate to improve upon his right back situation in the January transfer window. The cruciate injury to Ritchie De Laet left just Alan Hutton to man the position for 25+ remaining league matches.

Up until that point, Hutton had struggled poorly with his performance. In came young Barnsley defender James Bree, to the tune of £3 million.

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Almost every single Premier League giant was interested in Bree in one form or another: Manchester City was actively shopping the defender. Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Southampton, and West Ham all kicked the tires on Bree as well.

What Steve Bruce offered, however, was the possibility of immediate match time.

He wasn’t wrong, either. Bree utilized his positional flexibility by making his Aston Villa debut at right-wing back – an ode to the player’s athleticism.

Bree picked-up a modest knee injury on March 11th, ruling him out for most of Villa’s magnificent run towards the Championship playoffs. Seven clean sheets in eight matches saw the claret and blues pull within a couple points of sixth place. Alan Hutton manned the right back position during this incredible run of form and never looked back.

James Bree went on just three further appearances after March 11th. He played the full ninety in Villa’s final match of the season, a 1-1 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion.

Next: Libor Kozak's Story Is A Sad Tale

2017-2018 Predictions: James Bree and Ritchie De Laet jockey for the starting right back job all season. Alan Hutton is still around too. I can see all three players starting at least five league matches in 2017/2018.