England defender Millie Bright has stressed the European champions can reach “another level” as they work towards next summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The Lionesses made history at their home European Championships in July, when they secured their first major title by beating Germany at Wembley.
Since then, World Cup qualification has been secured and on Friday the team returned to Wembley for a friendly against reigning world champions United States. With a 2-1 win and 21 wins in 23 unbeaten games under Sarina Wiegman.
Bright, who skippered the competition in the absence of the injured Leah Williamson, said: “I don’t think people understand how difficult it is to come off the tournament like we did.
“You were at the very highest heights. Then going into club football and back to internationals is a lot harder than you might think.
“We’ve dealt with it as a group and it’s just a mentality of where we want to go.
“We don’t want to remain at the level of the European Championship, even if we were successful. We want to grow even more, get even better and dominate games even more than before and challenge ourselves.
“We have the attitude that we always have two feet on the ground and remain humble. We are now preparing for a tournament and this game against the USA, win or lose, we have to stay grounded and realize that the World Cup is still so far away.
“You have a lot of time to work on things. We sanded it and we were good in parts. But you have to remember that this group is on another level. It’s super exciting as a player. I think that’s what keeps us grounded, the environment we’ve created.”
Then the 29-year-old Chelsea defender expanded on her sense that England could reach a new level, saying: “100 per cent (I think so).
“At the Euro we found a way to win. We did our analysis on this and this is what we came up with. Of course there are positives because we won it. But we know we can be better.
“The group we have is very competitive. We are motivated to get better.
“We know that the World Cup is on a different level. A different competition with different opponents in a different country. There are all these factors that you have to deal with.
“It’s what keeps you eager to get better. In training, higher standards are demanded every day.”
The win, in front of 76,893 spectators, was the first for England since 2017 against USA, who they defeated 2-1 in the semi-finals en route to winning the 2019 World Cup.
When asked if it was anything of a statement, Bright said: “Yes it was – but the World Cup is still a long way off. It’s a strong US team at Wembley with a fantastic crowd, we always wanted to send a message. But we focus on ourselves, we always try to improve.
“We’ve had a different mentality since the summer, but we still know which way we’re going and where we want to go.”
The Lionesses took the lead through Lauren Hemp in the 10th minute before Sophia Smith leveled just before the half-hour.
Georgia Stanway scored the winning goal three minutes later with a penalty awarded after a VAR check just after Trinity Rodman’s shot for the USA was ruled out for offside.
England are next in action on Tuesday when they meet the Czech Republic at the Amex Stadium and wrap up their games for 2022 by taking on Japan and Norway in Spain next month.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/lionesses-united-states-england-australia-germany-b2198665.html The future is bright: Millie says lionesses can reach ‘another level’