Bright’s return a big boost for England says Wiegman ahead of the next EURO qualifiers | OneFootball

Bright’s return a big boost for England says Wiegman ahead of the next EURO qualifiers | OneFootball

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·14 May 2024

Bright’s return a big boost for England says Wiegman ahead of the next EURO qualifiers

Article image:Bright’s return a big boost for England says Wiegman ahead of the next EURO qualifiers

England head coach Sarina Wiegman says that defender Millie Bright’s return gives her side a big boost ahead of two very tough UEFA Women’s EURO 2025 qualifiers against France.

Wiegman announced her 24-player squad this morning. The same squad will be used for the next two international windows with an additional four players being put on standby to cover for any injuries.

Chelsea defender Bright is set to return to the England squad following a lengthy absence, while forward Aggie Beever-Jones has been handed her first senior call-up.

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When speaking in an England press conference, head coach Wiegman said that Bright’s return following long-term injury provides the team with a great boost.

“I’m very happy, she’s very happy,” Wiegman said. “She started playing again after a long period of injury and rehab, so it’s really good. She has two more games [with Chelsea], so that’s good to see too then she’ll come into camp. I’m very happy and so is she, it’s very good for the team.

“It’s a great boost and this is what she has been working for all the time of course; to compete with Chelsea and then come back into camp. Of course, we all hoped she would have been back earlier but she needed some more time, so I’m just really happy now this is the moment that she can come in.”

Bright’s Chelsea teammate Beever-Jones is the only new face in the latest England squad after being promoted from the Under-23s. Off the back of a successful season at Chelsea, Wiegman praised the young player for her growth which has allowed her to now step up to senior international level.

She said “I think Aggie has had a very great improvement. She developed so well in the Chelsea squad and she’s just doing really well. She’s an open person, she really wants to have every single day on the pitch.

“When we had our February camp, she was all in, she came into a training session with some other Under-23 players and she did well there too. I’m hoping she comes in and just goes out on the pitch and plays. She can play on the side, she can play in the centre. I’m looking forward to it.”

Going on to discuss a hectic calendar, Wiegman stated that although the game load is challenging for her side, she has been able to work with the clubs to create a training schedule to give the players some rest.

She said “It’s hard. We’ve known this calendar for a while now and we know that it’s very challenging. Now everything comes closer and things are new; we haven’t had this period where we don’t have a [major] tournament.

“We do have a window in July after the May-June window but the upcoming window is shortly after the league finishes, so it’s different. We find a way and this is how we approach it. It’s hard because there’s no competition except for the players from Barcelona.”

Speaking on the decision to hold two training camps at St George’s Park, a three-day training camp on 19-21 June 2024 and a five-day preparation camp between 24-28 June 2024, along with a final camp in The Netherlands from 1-5 July 2024, Wiegman again highlighted the challenges in preparing for England’s upcoming games.

She said “It was challenging, just like last year, of course. We had many conversations with clubs, good conversations with clubs and it’s challenging. We all know that players need some rest but we also need to train to compete in July. With all the clubs we had conversations with, we came to this plan and players have some programs with clubs, some still playing like Barcelona. Some players will come in and stay within our training camps.”

England face France in a UEFA Women’s EURO 2025 qualifying double-header in the next international window and Wiegman is looking forward to the challenge provided by the team ranked third-best in the world.

“I think it’s a huge test,” she said. “I think France have always played really well and I think they’re in a good place now. Of course, they’re number three in the FIFA ranking. It’s a very physical team but also, they have lots of qualities, lots of options to play too.

“We haven’t played them since I came in, so I’m excited to play them. It’s a different opponent but it’s going to be two very, very tough games.”

England face France at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park on Friday 31 May 2024 before travelling to the Geoffroy-Guichard Stadium in Saint-Étienne to contest the return fixture on Tuesday 4 June 2024.

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