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Women’s football Bright’s return to England squad ‘great boost,’ says Wiegman

MILLIE BRIGHT’S long-awaited return will give England just the boost they need ahead of their upcoming Euro 2025 qualifiers, according to boss Sarina Wiegman today.

The Chelsea centre-back captained the Lionesses to their first World Cup final last summer, but a knee injury-plagued season saw her only recently return to league action, while she has not featured in an England squad since October.

The 30-year-old is one of 28 players named in Wiegman’s latest squad, which also includes a first senior call-up for Bright’s club-mate Aggie Beever-Jones, that will remain unchanged across two international windows, beginning with France’s visit to St James’ Park on May 31.

Wiegman said of Bright: “I’m very happy, she’s very happy, started playing again after long periods of injury and rehab, so it’s very good. She has two more games so that’s good to see too, then she’ll come into camp.

“It’s really good for the team. It’s a great boost, this is what she’s been working for all the time, to compete with Chelsea and then coming back into camp. Of course we always hoped she’d be back earlier, but she needed some more time and I’m just really happy now this is the moment she can come in.”

The last time Bright featured in a Lionesses line-up alongside Leah Williamson, who captained England to their 2022 European triumph, was all the way back in February 2023.

Williamson ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament last April, returning to Wiegman’s fold this March after an injury setback forced her to withdraw from the Dutch boss’s February squad with a muscle injury.

Wiegman suggested the Arsenal defender will likely once again wear the captain’s armband for her country, as she did last month, though feels a conversation is still on the cards.

She said: “I have to discuss things with the players first. As I said, we were swapping around the armband a bit, also Leah started the second game last camp.

“She’s our captain and we’ll probably keep doing that. We have many leaders in the team. Let’s first see how everyone comes in and then I’ll have the conversation with the players first.”

Wiegman’s squad includes four standby players — Liverpool midfielder Missy Bo Kearns, Tottenham forward Jessica Naz, Southampton keeper Kayla Rendell and Manchester United defender Maya Le Tissier.

The boss praised Beever-Jones, 20, whose breakthrough season at Chelsea has earned the forward a first senior call-up, though she did have a taste of first-team camp after she was promoted to replace the injured Chloe Kelly during February’s international window.

The Lionesses, currently second in Group A3 with four points from their opening two qualifiers, will travel to Saint-Etienne for the France return fixture on June 4. They will then face the Republic of Ireland in Norwich on July 12 before flying to Gothenburg to take on Sweden to conclude the group stage four days later.

All players will report to St George’s Park on Monday May 28, with a period of rest scheduled after the first window before reuniting for a three-day training session on June 19, then report back for a five-day camp on June 24.

The preparation phase concludes with a final camp in the Netherlands from July 1-5 with a behind-closed-doors training fixture against the Dutch.

Wiegman conceded juggling players’ club commitments with England duty and the need to rest has been “challenging,” with Barcelona duo Lucy Bronze and Keira Walsh set to feature in the Champions League final on May 25.

While the England boss will not tell her players where to go during their time off, she preferred they “stay in Europe.”

She added: “We had many good conversations with clubs and it’s challenging, but we also know we need to train to compete in July. So, with all the clubs we have a conversation and we come to this plan.”

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