Injury setback won’t stop Chesterfield’s England Lionesses star Millie Bright in World Cup
Chesterfield’s England Lionesses star Millie Bright is determined not to let a shoulder problem spoil her World Cup adventure.
Bright starred for England in the 2-1 win over Scotland but was then substituted because of the shoulder injury.
The defender missed out on Friday’s 1-0 win over Argentina in England’s second match of the tournament as team bosses decided not to risk aggravating the problem.
Bright, writing in her regular World Cup column for the BBC Sport website, insisted she was fit enough to play in the narrow win.
She wrote ahead of the match against Argentina:
“It was funny how it came about, after I collided with my Chelsea team-mate Erin Cuthbert. Normally if we were involved in an altercation you’d expect her to come off second-best, but I couldn’t get my arm out in time to stop the fall, so it was quite a tumble.
“Erin messaged me after the game, bless her. I think she was worried about me, so she just asked if I was OK, congratulated us for the win and wished us well for the upcoming games. It was really nice of her to do that.
“Despite being rivals on the pitch for that game, there are no hard feelings. What goes on the pitch stays on the pitch and the most important thing is we got the win in a tough first game.
“It wasn’t part of my plan to be substituted with a shoulder injury in the win against Scotland but it’s going to take a lot more than that to halt my World Cup journey.
“The shoulder is fine now and I took part in training on Wednesday and Thursday, so I (was) fit and ready to take on Argentina in our second group game on Friday, if selected.
“Although I had it in a sling after the game, it was just to take the weight off it and keep things settled. Had the game been deeper in the tournament I think I would have stayed on the pitch.
“We just didn’t want to take any silly risks so early on and I just let the medical team make their call. I put all my trust in their hands because they know what’s best for me.”
England could meet the USA in the semi-finals and come up againat hot-shot striker Alex Morgan, who hit five goals as the States crushed Thailand by a record 13-0.
But Bright said she had no fears about meeting an opponent she has come up against before.
“The scoreline didn’t strike fear into me or anything,” added Bright. “Part of that was their opponents, but we are aiming to be just as good as the US, and we drew 2-2 with them in the SheBelieves Cup in March. It would be exciting to play them again.
“I’ve played against her (Alex Morgan) before and would relish the challenge of facing her again. I love playing against a striker who keeps you on your toes and I learned a little bit more about her watching the other night. Analysis of opponents is something I like doing.
“My playing background also helps a bit on that front. Even though I now play at centre-back for England and Chelsea, I actually started my career and made my senior England debut in 2016 as a forward.
“When I was at Doncaster Rovers Belles, I used to play up front or as a number 10, but when I joined Chelsea in 2015, I was more a midfielder, and over the last few years, I’ve moved into the back four. I think Jamie Carragher was similar, he started his early career as a forward at Everton, then played midfield and eventually ended up being one of Liverpool’s best defenders.
“If you’re a defender, having been a striker, it helps because you’re always thinking what a striker would do. Will they peel off your back shoulder or do they prefer a touch and finish?
“It comes down to reading your opponent and every striker is different, but the higher the level, the harder it is to score.
“That’s why I didn’t mind the US being so ruthless against Thailand. You should always want to showcase how good you are on the world’s biggest stage.”
Bright said the global interest in the tournament and the fact more than six million people watched England’s win over Scotland on television showed that women’s football was gaining in popularity.
She wrote in the BBC column: “I think some people need to change their mindsets, and part of this comes from using men’s football as a reference point, which is perhaps understandable.
“Women’s football will always be different from men’s football, but that doesn’t mean you cannot still appreciate it. OK, so it might be a bit slower than the men’s game, but then League Two football is slower than the Champions League, and it doesn’t stop people turning out to see their local teams.
“Forget that it’s women’s football, and just appreciate the talent on show.
“In many ways, women’s football is still in its infancy. The game is still growing and investment is starting to roll into the game. Why do you think that is? Because it’s a great product. Sponsors don’t make those commercial decisions if they don’t think there’s anything in it for them.
“Sceptics need to appreciate the game for what it is and how we play football. Once you do that, people start to change their mindsets.”