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New faces are taking England higher - Bright

Millie Bright

England defender Millie Bright is excited by the strength of the Lionesses squad and said "the new faces are taking us higher".

After missing more than five months of the season through injury, the 30-year-old - who led England to the World Cup final last summer - has been named in Sarina Wiegman's 24-player squad for their forthcoming Euro 2025 qualifiers.

England host France at St James' Park on 31 May before travelling to Saint-Etienne on 4 June for the Group 3 return tie.

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

With plenty of competition for places, Chelsea captain Bright said "no-one's place is a given".

"It's massive, but that's what we want," she added. "We want every position to have competitiveness and people driving each other in training.

"That is when you get the best out of each other and when you get the best performances. No place is ever set so we need everyone to keep having that mentality on the training pitch.

"We've had some great additions to the squad and as always we need to keep improving and develop. Football is never stand still, it always goes to another level. We're thriving in training and the new faces are taking us higher."

One new addition to the squad in particular that Bright praised is her uncapped Chelsea team-mate Aggie Beever-Jones.

The 20-year-old forward has received her first senior Lionesses call up and replaces Aston Villa's Rachel Daly, who announced her retirement from international football in April.

After loan spells with Bristol City and Everton, Beever-Jones enjoyed a breakthrough season with Chelsea and was their second-highest scorer behind Lauren James.

"She's been exceptional," Bright said. "Everyone has seen her attitude and her mentality and the player she is developing into.

"I think it's extremely hard going out on loan and coming back. Aggie has shown how good it can be for young players.

"She's really thrived in our environment and her hard work this season with her goals, assists and performances have got her a call-up."

Beever-Jones scored 11 goals and registered two assists in the Women's Super League, with some proving pivotal as Chelsea won a fifth successive title.

Bright thinks she will thrive in the England set-up as she added: "Her runs in behind, her pace, she is a wonderful technician on the ball but most importantly she puts the ball in the back of the net so she is a great addition to the squad.

"She's quite cheeky actually - I know she might come across as an angel. She's a real good character, a real good girl, super humble, super caring and committed.

"Whatever task you give her she will fulfil to the best of her ability. She's really bubbly as well. Losing Rach [Daly], it's nice to have those characters and that bubbliness.

"She's like a sponge in these environments. She takes everything in, but she's having fun while she does it, which is the most important thing."

The Lionesses, who are hoping to defend their European title in Switzerland next year, have had a mixed start to Euro 2025 qualifying.

They drew their opener 1-1 with Sweden at Wembley, before a 2-0 away win over the Republic of Ireland.

They now play group leaders France, who have two wins from two, twice in the space of five days.

Bright said England can send "a massive message" by beating Herve Renard's side.

"It would be huge," she said. "It's an extremely competitive group.

"France are an incredible team, pose a lot of threats. Equally there are things we can do to put the threats on them.

"We have to be extremely prepared. We know it's going to be two tough games. As always we don't go out for anything other than wins and a good performance. It will be a massive message."