SAINTS defender James Bree is “confident” and enjoying his new “unnatural” role in the starting line-up.
The defender started the last five games and impressed fans and coach Russell Martin with his performances.
Prior to his first start of the league season, which came at Preston North End, Bree had played just one league match: a five-minute cameo against Leeds United.
On his first return to the team, Bree was deployed in the left-back position and few expected him to play given his experience at right-back.
In an interview with the Daily Echo, the former Luton defender admitted that he is enjoying his new role, but also said that he still cannot come to terms with playing on the left flank.
He said: “To be honest, I really enjoyed it. Earlier in my career I played on the left wing, but I didn’t spend much time on it.
“It’s not easy in this team, but when we talk to the coach, for us as defenders it’s about passing the ball.”
“Right now I’m more focused on defending and keeping things moving forward. If you have good players in front of you to pass the ball to, it makes it easier for me.
“Moving forward is what I want to bring to my game. During my time at Luton I was probably the most attacking player we had.
“It’s a bit of a different role now, but I can play both sides. If I can combine those two things, hopefully I can win.”
Bree admits that he still feels weird playing on the left side instead of the more natural right.
Sometimes he finds himself in situations where he feels uncomfortable standing on the left. With that in mind, the 25-year-old is hoping he can become more of a natural on the left flank.
“It’s just a matter of repetition and getting used to it,” he continued. “I really enjoy playing on that side, especially in the build-up.”
“It’s just a little more difficult when I try to get the cross and I have to work from the right side.”
“I was talking to the gaffer and Gilly recently and they told me, ‘If you get into space on the edge of the box, just shoot.’
“It’s a little unnatural for me too, but I want to add goals to my game.”
The Wakefield-born defender benefited hugely from Ryan Manning’s suspension earlier this season, which earned him a starting spot at Preston.
By then Manning was a regular starter, following Martin from Swansea to the south coast.
The away match at Middlesbrough was the only match in which the Irish defender did not start, although he did come on as a half-time substitute.
However, Manning never started after his suspension as Brie secured a permanent role on the team.
“Competition is good for all teams,” Brie continued when asked about her weekly meetings with Manning.
“It helped me improve my game and get into the team. Ryan had been training very well and was doing well before I joined the team.”
“I know that when I play he will always be energetic and when he returns to the team I will always push him to get his place back. We’ll have to wait and see how things develop.
“Kyle did a great job on the right wing, he played every minute and was fantastic. If I get a chance, I’ll play there – we’ll see what happens.”
Brie had to wait patiently for her chance on the main team this season.
His first start of the season came as the Saints were knocked out of the EFL Cup by Gillingham before he faced a long wait for his next appearance.
When asked about Bree by the Daily Echo earlier this season, Martin explained that the defender is “a better player than he thinks” and noted that his job is to instill some confidence in his ability.
When asked about his views on the start of the campaign, Bree replied: “It’s just a matter of trust.
“When you’re not playing or not in the team – I haven’t played a decent game since January last year – it’s difficult. If you’ve played four or five games, of course you’re going to have problems.”
“Then everything gets better and you understand the situation better, especially with new tactics. Now, having become part of the team, I feel more confident.
“I always back myself 100 percent, but if you take control of these matches and prove it to yourself, everything will become much easier.
“Every football player will tell you that it’s difficult when you don’t play. You just need to bide your time. There are so many good players on this team that it will be a challenge to make the team every week.
“When you’re out, you have to work really hard and take opportunities when they come and try to stay in the team.”
Author: George Rees-Julian
Source: Daily Echo