England face the first of their two upcoming international friendlies this Friday as the Lionesses travel to Caen for a fixture that will see them play France for the first time since March 2018.
Currently sitting third in FIFA’s Women’s World Rankings, France will prove a worthy test for the England players who will be looking to make a statement in preparation for next year’s EUROs and more pressingly, the Team GB selection for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics which are set to be shortlisted in May.
Speaking at a Lionesses press conference in which FAWSL Full-Time were present, Chelsea centre-back Millie Bright said that the upcoming friendlies will provide England with a benchmark of where they are right now. She also admitted that the looming Team GB selection is definitely on the minds of the England players.
She said “Playing against the best teams in the world is always good test to see where you are at and where you can improve.
“As an athlete, it is a huge opportunity (being selected for Team GB) and that’s why everyone is so eager to put the hard work in to make sure their name is on that squad list.
“I’m fighting for that shirt and I’ve got to make sure I’m on the top of my game every day.”
Hege Riise’s selected squad of 24 came together last Sunday, marking the start of preparations ahead of two testing fixtures against France and Canada.
Reflecting on England’s form since the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, Bright said “It’s been a tough journey as we’ve not had many competitive games but the group is hungry to improve and we want to go out there and get two wins.
“We have to respect the fact that France are a top opposition and we’ll have to be at our best.”
Following an injury that saw Bright miss England’s dominant 6-0 display against Northern Ireland in February, the Chelsea defender was re-called to the squad for this month’s camp. The Northern Ireland win was the Lionesses’ first competitive game in nearly a year and more importantly, the first under the new management of interim head coach Riise.
Since her appointment, Riise’s squad selection has boldly gifted opportunities to a number of younger players currently performing highly for their clubs and Bright spoke positively about the blend of youth and experience.
“The younger players have unbelievable talent and everything has been ramped up because naturally, the mentality within the squad is that you’re fighting for a position,” she said.
“I don’t really think this England squad have had the chance to get going yet so I’m excited for what’s to come.”
When asked about what wearing an England shirt meant to her, Bright said “Representing your country is the biggest honour that any footballer could ever have, my focus is on bringing home trophies with this squad and moving forward into winning ways.”
England’s international friendly fixture against France in Caen will kick-off at 8.10pm on Friday and will be broadcast live on BBC Four.