Hatters defender believes Town fans will see a 'new James Bree' this season

Full back is 'flying' after a proper pre-season with Luton

By Mike Simmonds
Thursday, 15th July 2021, 9:12 am
Updated Thursday, 15th July 2021, 10:54 am
Town defender James Bree
Town defender James Bree

Defender James Bree is confident that the Luton fans will see a new player when they come back to Kenilworth Road this season.

The 23-year-old originally signed for the Hatters under previous boss Graeme Jones in a loan deal from Premier League side Aston Villa.

As Town struggled during their first season back in the Championship, so did Bree at times, as asked to play in an unfamiliar left back role, and with the Hatters shipping goals left, right and centre, he found it tough going, leading to some Luton supporters questioning his addition.

However, once Nathan Jones took over during lockdown and the campaign resumed, Bree came back with a spring in his step, improving his performance levels dramatically and starting to look like the kind of full back who had earned a big money move to Villa Park from Barnsley in January 2017.

That led to Jones agreeing an undisclosed fee to take the defender on a permanent basis summer, but a lack of a proper pre-season led to a number of minor knee and calf injuries in the first half of the campaign, as Bree only began one Championship game before Christmas.

He went on to play 27 times in total, starting 11 out of the last 12 matches as he managed to shake off his frustrating ailments and having got a proper rest over the summer, coupled with the pre-season he lacked last term, Bree believes he can now show his real self to the Town fans when they are back at Kenilworth Road after almost 18 months away.

Speaking after yesterday evening's 5-0 win at Bedford Town, in which the full back scored Luton's fourth goal, his second in pre-season already, Bree said: “I feel a million times better than I did last year.

"We didn’t get the transfer done here until late, then I didn’t really get a pre-season and then I got a few little niggles from it and I never really settled and got the base fitness that I needed.

"To be fair to myself, I’ve come back flying this year, fitness-wise I’m feeling really good in training, on the ball as well, so fingers crossed I can keep that going for as long as possible.

“I think I played my best football just after lockdown, a couple of seasons ago just after they (supporters) weren’t here, so I’m definitely looking forward to showing them my best football.

"I think they’re going to see a new James Bree this year getting up and down the wing, so we’ll see how we get on.”

The 1,500 supporters who were present at the New Eyrie would have been impressed with Town’s right back, as he burst forward regularly in the final 30 minutes with real freedom.

He went close with one effort, then sent a free kick narrowly wide, before beating Eagles keeper Alex Street from 20 yards via a slight deflection.

On playing in front of the Hatters faithful once more, Bree added: "It’s unbelievable having the fans back.

"What’s it been, 18 months since they were last in? You kind of forget how much they help you get up for games.

"You find ways to cope with it since they’ve not been here, but now they’re back, I think it’s so much better."