Millie Bright ‘honoured’ to be named Lionesses captain for upcoming qualifiers

Millie Bright ‘honoured’ to be named Lionesses captain for upcoming qualifiers
Bright will lead the side in the World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Latvia

Millie Bright has been handed the captain’s armband by England boss Sarina Wiegman for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Latvia.

The Lionesses go into the double-header without the injured Leah Williamson the captain for each of their previous four Group D matches in the absence of Steph Houghton who remains sidelined herself.

England play Austria at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on Saturday and then Latvia three days later at the Keepmoat Stadium, where Chelsea defender Bright used to play for Doncaster Belles.

Asked how it felt to know she would be taking the armband for the games, the 28-year-old told a press conference: “It’s amazing.

“I think no matter what age you are, how many times you’ve done it before, it’s always going to be a huge honour representing your country, and not only that but then leading the girls out for this camp is obviously an exciting opportunity.

“But, for me, nothing changes, the aims are still the same – keep performing well and hopefully lead the team to two more victories.”

England have won four out of four in Group D so far, beating North Macedonia, Luxembourg, Northern Ireland and Latvia 8-0, 10-0, 4-0 and 10-0 respectively in their first four outings under Wiegman.

Bright added: “It was this morning [that Wiegman told her about the captaincy]. She just asked me for a little chat – we’ve actually taught her a new little phrase, ‘little chit-chat’, and she was like: ‘Can I take you for a chit-chat?’ And then just asked me if I was happy to be captain for this camp.

“I was a little bit stunned at first. We’ve got a lot of leaders and experience in the team. I was just very humbled and honoured to be given that opportunity.”

England have a perfect record so far under Sarina Wiegman (Tim Goode/PA).

On the prospect of returning to the Keepmoat, Bright, who played for Doncaster from 2009 to 2014, said: “To be able to go back there and for my family to be in the crowd and just to be given that opportunity is one that I’m very proud of and grateful for.

“It’s always special and having the fans back in the crowd is amazing. So I think it’s something that words will never be enough for really.

“For me, looking back at the Keepmoat, that was my first real experience of playing in a big stadium and that’s where the dream started.

“It’s been a rollercoaster of a journey and to be able to be going back there and leading the girls out in front of the people and my family that were there from day one, it is going to be a moment that will last forever and certainly one my family and myself are going to be proud of.”

Ellen White is set to win her 100th England cap in Saturday’s match and she is two goals away from drawing level with the team’s all-time top scorer Kelly Smith on 46 goals.

Bright, holder of 43 caps, said of the Manchester City striker: “She’s the best. Ells is a true professional, she’s worked extremely hard to get to where she is now and she fully deserves it.

“I’ve got all the confidence that she’s going to keep breaking barriers and keep breaking records. She never settles, she’s always pushing herself every day.

“She’s the ultimate team player, she just wants the team to do well. She’s coming up to these unbelievable achievements, but I can tell you Ellen’s focus will purely be the team and that’s just Ellen down a tee. She’s all for everyone around her, but I think we’ve all got to be for Ells this week.”

Bright was speaking at St George’s Park, where Wiegman’s team trained in front of the media earlier in the day.

Following the session a ceremony was held to mark Carol Thomas, captain of the England side who were runners-up at the 1984 Uefa Women’s Championship, being inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame.

A presentation was made by the Football Association’s director of women’s football Baroness Sue Campbell, and Thomas’ former team-mates Gillian Coultard, Liz Deighan, Pat Chapman and Kerry Davis were also in attendance.