Jones defends 'Premier League quality' Bree as he insists the Town full back is on the 'same level' as Jack Stacey

Defender sets up Adebayo for equaliser against Fulham this afternoon

By Mike Simmonds
Saturday, 11th December 2021, 6:59 pm
Updated Sunday, 12th December 2021, 10:44 am
Town defender James Bree
Town defender James Bree

Luton boss Nathan Jones launched a staunch defence of full back James Bree following today's 1-1 draw with Championship leaders Fulham, insisting his defender possessed 'Premier League quality' and was on the ‘same level’ as former Town favourite Jack Stacey.

The 24-year-old, who is the only Hatter to play every single minute in the league this season, has come in for criticism from some section of supporters due to his inconsistent set-piece delivery and crosses.

It was a similar mixed bag against the Cottagers today, as during the first half, he sent at least one delivery straight behind for a goal kick, while also failed to pick out a team-mate from another decent opportunity.

However, after the break, just before Bree went to take a free kick, he appeared to hear some less than complimentary words from a home supporter, before immediately arrowing in a wonderful set-piece for Elijah Adebayo to stoop and head home a 10th of the season.

During the celebrations, the former Aston Villa and Barnsley youngster made it clear what he thought of the comments, as speaking afterwards, Jones compared him to ex-Hatter Stacey, who was sold for big money to then Premier League Bournemouth in the summer of 2019.

He said: “James Bree’s getting a little bit of stick, but I love that kid.

"He’s brave, gets on it, and when you have Premier League quality, as he has Premier League quality, and he’s trying to put in that real perfect ball, that we score from in the end, sometimes he’s going to shank one.

"Sometimes he’s going to put it in the stands, sometimes he’s going to hit the railway station, but we encourage him to do that.

"So that when he gets that opportunity to put it in for Elijah’s goal, he does it, and sometimes you take the rough with the smooth.

“We’re humans, I’ve had a nibble at a couple in some of the boxes over my years here, don’t worry about that, it shows your passion.

"What we have to realise is as well, that we are bottom four budget, so when we are competing, and we ask them to be bold, we don’t just be passive and sit in, and say 'come in,' now we’re bold and James Bree is a bold, brave player.

"So yes, the fans pay their money, they can have a go at him, but get behind him as trust me, he’s on the same level if not above where Jack Stacey was and that’s what we do.

"Let’s not be negative, if he has a nibble, he has a nibble, shows he cares, shows his passion, but let's get behind him as we are punching above our weight.”

On the free kick itself, Jones continued: "It was world class, we'd have been happy about that, but we ask him to do that, ask him to play on margins, ask him to do stuff.

"We don't just ask him to dink stuff in and be passive, we ask to really go gung ho with his delivery that when it comes off, it's a world ball and we score from it, and that's what happened.

"But he's developing, he’ll get better, let's concentrate today on a wonderful performance going toe-to-toe with the best side in the league and I'm really proud of them.”

Meanwhile, team-mate Reece Burke added: "Not everything's going to be perfect, but we know when does put a perfect one in it's on the money and today it was."