Reds full-back James Bree spoke with the assembled media at Oakwell today..
The 18-year-old defender has recently returned to the squad after overcoming a hamstring injury that he picked up against Huddersfield Town back in August. He’s featured in the last three Championship fixtures but admits that the season so far has frustratingly followed a similar trend for him on a personal level.
Speaking about his injury problems, he said: “It’s been an up and down season so far for me again, fitness-wise. I started the season well I thought, I had a little run in the team and then I picked up the injury. It set me back a bit again. I’m used to it now, getting a few niggles but it’s still quite annoying. I’ve been working with ‘Sedg’ (Physio, Craig Sedgwick) again and I think I’ve got to a place where I’m feeling quite strong and obviously got myself back into the team again.
“Long may that continue, I’m feeling good at the minute and hopefully I can stay fit now for as long as possible. I’ve had a few problems with my hamstring since I was younger, coming down from my back, but it’s just one of those things you have to manage. Obviously I’m still growing and Sedg tells me it’s nothing serious, so I need to keep following my program, keep strengthening my hamstrings and hopefully I’ll be fine in the long run.”
The teenager has played under Paul Heckingbottom right through different age groups and he believes that to be a great factor in developing himself both physically and in terms of furthering his ability. As a fellow home-grown defender too, Bree sees Hecky as a real mentor for him in his football career.
“It’s great for me” he said. “He’s always guiding me in the right direction. He’s helping me to manage myself and my game. Obviously I want to play every single game, week in, week out but from previous experience I can’t really do that unfortunately. Not right now at least. Hecky has sat me down and explained what he sees as the best plan for me going forward and I trust him completely.
“I’m a local lad from Wakefield so it’s nice to have that affinity with Hecky and the fans. He was my manager here in the U14s so it’s nice to have someone who gets you, who knows you as a player and person. He knows what I’m good at, what I can and can’t do. Then I’ve ‘Robbo’ (Marc Roberts) there who’s a big help too, another local lad and he’s a really big leader in this team. You can’t help but learn from them. There’s a clear pathway here at Barnsley in terms of progression. The Club wants players to break through the Academy, it’s produced great local lads already as we’ve seen so I just want to get out there and play like any footballer but I have to be fit to be at my best.”
Bree acknowledges the big step-up in quality from League One to Championship football but feels that can only help develop his and his teammates’ games the more they compete on a regular basis. The winner of last year’s LFE Apprentice of the Year award also praised the terrific backing given by the Reds supporters once again this season.
“It’s really quicker up here than it was last season in League One. You’ve to think fast. The quality in this division improves year on year and it’s telling. But I’m loving it. It’s what it’s all about, it’s how you gain experience. We can’t improve by standing still. It’s a massive step up but that’s what we were promoted for. I’m sure Bristol will be another big test for us, they’ve spent quite a bit of money and they’re right up there. But it’s another three-point opportunity for us, as always.
“The atmosphere around the place is fantastic. Oakwell has been bouncing. The Reds fans have been quality. And they’ve been travelling in bulk away as well, they’ve been really good on our away days so the atmosphere’s been great which really helps us as players, that backing. I know it’s a cliché but it’s true. We feel their support.”
You can see the full interview with James Bree over on Barnsley Player HD.
Tickets are still available for this Saturday’s game with Bristol City, CLICK HERE