Barnsley: Starlet Bree ready to live Wembley dream with Reds

James Bree is back fit and ready for a dream Wembley appearance at just 18
James Bree is back fit and ready for a dream Wembley appearance at just 18

Barnsley’s teen starlet James Bree will be living the dream if he is picked to walk out at Wembley this weekend.

The academy graduate is preparing to grace the home of football in Sunday’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final at the tender age of 18.

Bree has enjoyed a brilliant breakthrough season, catching the eye of a number of big clubs as well as being nominated for League One’s apprentice of the year award.

And the Wakefield-born full back knows that the occasion will bring a mixture of emotions should he be selected for the squad.

“It’s crazy, it’s come round really fast,” admitted Bree. “We’ve been focusing on the league games and not really thinking about it, then all of a sudden it’s come round.

“It’s really exciting playing at Wembley and it’s going to be a big game for us all.

“When you’re a little kid you dream of playing at Wembley and I’m going to be living the dream if I do get to walk out there on the pitch and get a few minutes.”

Bree has been nursing a hamstring injury throughout March, with his last appearance coming in the 2-0 victory over Coventry a month ago.

But after careful management and rehabilitation he is now fighting fit and returned to the match day squad against Port Vale last time out.

“After being out injured I was always worried about whether or not I could get back in the squad,” he added.

“Getting back in the team the week before Wembley was a good experience for me.

“With hamstrings it’s always a bit dodgy, you never really know when it’s fully right.

“But I’m feeling good at the moment, and with the ultimatum of Wembley I think I’ve been able to push on. It’s feeling back to normal.”

Meanwhile, one of Barnsley’s most famous supporters, Dickie Bird, reckons the current crop of Reds stars will bring back the trophy.

“This is a special occasion for the town,” said the cricketing legend. “I’ve been supporting them for 78 years so I’ve seen the ups and the downs. I’ve seen the disappointments, the successes and I remember my first match as if it were yesterday.

“This should be a good game. I think Barnsley should just have the advantage because we’re in League One and Oxford United are in League Two.

“I think the difference in leagues might tell in the end and I think we’ll just scrape through.”

Bird will watch Sunday’s final from the exclusive Bobby Moore Club seats at Wembley.

The Reds’ last appearance in a Wembley final was a 4-2 loss to Ipswich in the 2000 First Division play-offs – the last domestic match to be staged at the old stadium before its demolition – and Bird fell victim to a rather unpleasant experience.

“I’ll always remember the old Wembley when I went to watch us play Ipswich and I was in the Royal Box,” he laughed. “The toilet in the room above broke and it flushed through the roof all over me.

“I was soaked to the skin and wet through. They took me to the back, dried me off, I came back and I’d missed two of the goals!”