Millie Bright ready to take on France after challenging injury battle

Millie Bright admits her recent spell on the sidelines was the “most tasking period” of her career as she prepares for her long-awaited England return.

The Chelsea centre-back captained the Lionesses to their first World Cup final last summer but subsequently spent five months out of action due to a serious knee injury.

Bright, who returned for the Women’s Super League run-in to help the Blues retain the title, is poised to make her first international appearance since October on Friday evening during her country’s Euro 2025 qualifier against France in Newcastle.

“This one in particular has probably been the hardest one out of all of them,” she told a press conference, speaking about the injury.

“There are so many factors, even when you’re injured you still have responsibilities, obviously club captain, so you still have to be present.

“I always still feel involved and a responsibility and being injured is the hardest thing, you can’t contribute in ways you would like to.

“It’s definitely been, I’d probably say, the most tasking period for myself for more reasons than one.

“But that’s football, the challenges that we face. You have to make the best decisions to overcome them and mine was making sure I made the end of the season to put myself in a position to be selected.”

England sit second in qualifying after last month beginning their campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to Sweden and a 2-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland.

Sarina Wiegman’s reigning European champions are preparing for a crunch double header against early group leaders France, with the upcoming St James’ Park clash followed by next Tuesday’s meeting in Saint-Etienne.

Bright believes back-to-back victories would send out a “massive message”.

“It would be huge,” she said. “It’s an extremely competitive group and France are an incredible team.

“They pose a lot of threats but, equally, there are things we can do to put the threats on them.

“We know it’s going to be two tough games. But it will be massive message. As always, we don’t go out for anything other than wins and a good performance.”

Head coach Wiegman could hand a debut to uncapped Chelsea forward Aggie Beever-Jones against France.

Bright feels her 20-year-old club-mate, who registered 11 goals and two assists in 17 WSL appearances this term following loan spells with Bristol City and Everton, is a “great addition to the squad”.

“She’s been exceptional,” Bright said of Beever-Jones. “I think everyone has seen her attitude and mentality and the player she’s developing into.

“It’s extremely hard going out on loan and coming back and it’s something Aggie’s shown how good it can be for young players.

“She’s really thrived in our environment and her hard work this season have got her a call up – the runs in behind, her pace, a wonderful technician on the ball but, most importantly, she puts the ball in the back of the net.

“She’s a great addition to the squad.”