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Millie Bright returns to England's squad for European Championship qualifiers

Millie Bright returns to England's squad for European Championship qualifiers

video caption, Sarina Wegman discusses who she would choose as England captain

  • author, Emma Sanders
  • roles, BBC Sport journalist

England captain Millie Bright has been called up to the England squad for the first time since last October after recovering from a knee injury.

Bright, 30, who led England to the World Cup final last summer, missed more than five months of the season but was named in coach Sarina Wegman's 24-player squad for the Euro 2025 qualifiers.

She is joined in the squad by Chelsea team-mate Aggie Beaver-Jones, 20, who will replace striker Rachel Daly after she announced her retirement from international football in April.

Beaver-Jones has had an outstanding season with Chelsea, scoring 11 goals in 15 Women's Super League appearances.

The England Under-23s striker earned a call-up to the senior squad as a late substitute for the injured Chloe Kelly in the 7-2 friendly win over Austria last February, but did not play.

Wegman also named a reserve list that includes Manchester United's Maya Le Tissier, Liverpool's Missy Bo Cairns, Southampton's Kayla Rendell and Tottenham's Jess Naz.

The Lionesses, who are hoping to defend their European title in Switzerland next year, host France at St James' Park on May 31 before traveling to Saint-Etienne on June 4.

Wegman will take the same squad to Norwich to face the Republic of Ireland on July 12, before heading to Sweden on July 16.

Daly 'missing' but Bright's return 'strengthening'

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, Millie Bright started every match for England as they won Euro 2022

This is the first time Wegman has not been able to select Daly, and the England coach admitted she “really misses her” after her shock retirement in April.

“Rachel and I had many conversations before she made the decision. She is a wonderful person and a lot of fun to work with,” Wegman said.

“This is the reality now and we have to move on. It's weird not having her in the team. I think it's touching that she said: 'Okay, this is where it ends for me now.'

Bright's return is a huge boost for Wegman as she will be able to select her first choice at centre-back – Leah Williamson and Bright – for the first time since February 2023.

“It feels like a long time. I'm so happy, she's so happy. I'm starting to play again after a long period of injury and rehab,” Wegman said.

“It's a big boost. That's what.” [Bright] It has been working for. We were all hoping she would come back early but she needed more time and we are glad she can come back now.

video caption, Millie Bright: The Chelsea defender wondered if her “career was over” while injured

'Clarity' for players in 'condensed season'

England currently occupies second place in its qualifying group, two points behind France, after drawing with Sweden and defeating the Republic of Ireland last month.

“After an intense season, we wanted to give the players clarity and help them prepare in the best way possible, with the balance of performance and wellbeing as a priority,” Wegman said of naming the squad for the upcoming two international spells.

“We have had good conversations with the clubs and are grateful for their cooperation and support in helping the players to be active, fit and ready for two international matches at the highest level.”

In addition to finding physical balance, Wegman says they can learn ways to cope with mental stress, as she spoke at Mental Health Awareness Week.

Asked if she had a message for people who might be struggling, Wegman told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Don't keep it to yourself. People don't see when people are struggling mentally.”

“You can see when someone breaks their legs, it's pretty obvious, but these [mental] Things are not clear. If you're struggling, find help.

“Talk to people who can provide support, who have the knowledge and experience around that. When we link that to sport, you can train on how to deal with things. But I would say get the support that's there.”

Goalkeepers: Mary Earps, Hannah Hampton, Chiara Keating

Defenders: Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze, Jess Carter, Niamh Charles, Alex Greenwood, Esme Morgan, Millie Turner, Leah Williamson, Lottie Whoopin Moy

Midfielders: Grace Clinton, Fran Kirby, Jess Park, Georgia Stanway, Ella Toone, Keira Walsh

straight ahead: Aggie Beaver-Jones, Lauren Hemp, Lauren James, Chloe Kelly, Beth Mead, Alessia Russo

comment: Kayla Rendell, Maya Le Tissier, Missy Bo Cairns, Jess Naz

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