England recall fit-again Bright for Euro qualifiers

World Cup captain Millie Bright has been recalled to the England squad for the first time since October after recovering from a knee injury.

Bright, 30, who led England to the World Cup final last summer, has missed over five months of the season but is named in manager Sarina Wiegman’s 24-player squad for their Euro 2025 qualifiers.

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

Beever-Jones has had a breakout season for Chelsea, scoring 11 goals in 15 Women’s Super League matches.

The England Under-23 forward earned a call-up to the senior squad as a late replacement for the injured Chloe Kelly for February’s 7-2 friendly victory over Austria but did not play.

Wiegman has also named a standby list which includes Manchester United's Maya le Tissier, Liverpool's Missy Bo Kearns, 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 31 May before travelling to Saint-Etienne on 4 June.

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

'Missing' Daly but Bright return a 'boost'

Millie Bright playing for England
Millie Bright started every match for England as they won Euro 2022 [Getty Images]

It is the first time Wiegman has not been able to select Daly and the England boss admitted she was “ already missing her” following her surprise retirement in April.

“Rachel and I had many conversations before she made the decision. She’s a great person and so much fun to work with,” said Wiegman.

“It’s the reality now and we have to move on. It’s very strange not having her in the squad. I think it’s powerful that she said ‘OK, this is where it finishes for me now.’”

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

“It feels like a long time. I’m very happy, she’s very happy. She started playing again after a long period of injury and rehabilitation,” said Wiegman.

“It’s a great boost. This is what [Bright] has been working towards. We all hoped she would be back earlier but she needed more time and we’re happy she can come in now.”

'Clarity' for players in 'intense season'

England currently sit second in their qualifying group, trailing France by two points, following a draw with Sweden and victory over the Republic of Ireland last month.

"After an intense season, we wanted to give the players clarity and help them to prepare in the best possible way, with the balance of performance and welfare as a priority," Wiegman said about naming a squad for two upcoming international windows.

"We have had good conversations with the clubs, and we are grateful for their co-operation and support in helping the players to be fresh, fit and ready for two international matches on the highest level."

As well as finding a balance physically, Wiegman says they can learn methods to deal with mental pressures as she reflected on Mental Health Awareness Week.

Asked if she had a message for people who may be struggling, Wiegman 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 very obvious, but those [mental] things are not obvious. If you are struggling, search for help.

"Talk to people that can support, have knowledge and expertise around that. When we relate this to sport, you can train how to deal with things. But I would say get the support that is out there."

England squad:

Goalkeepers: Mary Earps, Hannah Hampton, Khiara Keating

Defenders: Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze, Jess Carter, Niamh Charles, Alex Greenwood, Esme Morgan, Millie Turner, Leah Williamson, Lotte Wubben-Moy

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

Forwards: Aggie Beever-Jones, Lauren Hemp, Lauren James, Chloe Kelly, Beth Mead, Alessia Russo

Standby: Kayla Rendell, Maya le Tissier, Missy Bo Kearns, Jess Naz