Bright: We’ve grown so much throughout the tournament


Millie Bright had been classed as a major doubt for the quarter-final against Norway but she overcame illness and was pivotal for the full 90 minutes in England’s 3-0 win.

Bright and captain Steph Houghton were solid at the back after keeping a clean sheet against Norway when there were several sticky moments in which they could have conceded.

Goals in the first half from Jill Scott and Ellen White saw England on their way to victory before a stunner from Lucy Bronze wrapped up the win after the break.

Asked how she coped after overcoming a virus to play the full 90 minutes, Bright said:

“Yeah, the last 20 [minutes]was a bit of a struggle but yeah, I think the adrenaline gets you through and I think we’re used to grinding it out and digging deep and I think that’s in me as a person anyway so I managed to get through.”

The Lionesses were ahead after when Jill Scott scored after just three minutes, which was certainly beneficial to Bright and her team-mates:

“I wouldn’t say its relief but it is in a way because I think the early goal in tournament football is massive and I think it kind of settles the game a little bit.

“It allows you to be calmer in the game, composed, you’re not rushing for a goal, it’s just something to build on.

“So obviously we were always grateful for getting the early goal but I think that’s something we’ve done well in the tournament, Ells [Ellen White] has been outstanding at doing that and we’ve been very clinical.

“That’s something that we’ve always been working on, being more ruthless in the final third and I think that’s paying off now.”

Ruthlessness has been mentioned as an area where England need to improve and Bright believes they have done that:

“I think we’ve grown so much, even throughout the tournament, the past few games, we’ve definitely grown as a team and I think being clinical and ruthless is the thing that was missing for us but I think we’ve nailed that now and we’ve just got to keep growing and performing and keep working on it.

“Of course, everything can always be better but yeah, it’s our baseline now and we settle for nothing less.”

Bright was in top form throughout the game, as was captain Steph Houghton who was alert to danger, clearing Lisa-Marie Utland’s effort off the line, as well as intervening to deny Caroline Graham Hansen a seemingly certain goal just after the break.

“It’s always a pleasure to play alongside Steph and I always say she’s a great captain and a great player and she’s still helping me learn in the game so yeah it’s always an honour and I think we’ve played really well and we’ve started to really gel now as a squad, not just as a team.”

Playing out from the back is encouraged in Phil Neville’s side but it doesn’t come without risks:

“It’s probably just trying to keep the ball and as an individual, you take responsibility if it’s not up to scratch.

“I take full responsibility if the pass is not quite right but again he’ll never discourage you for trying to play rather than just kicking it out so yeah I just think we have to keep building like I say and it’s never going to be a perfect game, it’s football it’s always going to be up and down at some point so we just have to build on it.”

Caroline Graham Hansen has been superb for Norway throughout the tournament but Bright made sure that she didn’t get the chance to shine against England:

“You make sure as an individual you’re aware of who you’re coming up against and obviously we knew she [CGH] was going to be a threat from watching games that she’s played in so far and she’s a great technical player.

“She’s quick so we just knew that we had to either yourself that extra yard and just read kind of where she was going to run but I love a one-on-one challenge anyway so I’ll always be up for that.

“We always analyse teams and individually if you want to pay attention to another player more so than others, obviously strikers is something that I definitely look at.

“I think it’s important, I think it’s something you have to do as a player at this sort of level, I don’t think you can go into a game blind and not know what you’re coming up against. She’s a key player for them.”

Asked if the belief of winning the tournament has grown as the team have progressed, Bright though that it had:

“I think it grows. It has to when you get so much momentum and success but I think something Phil drives is that we go game by game and there’s no point thinking about the final if you’re not quite there yet and we’re not, we’ve got to go through the semis and every game is going to be a big game so you can’t afford to look ahead, you’ve just got to go one game at a time and that’s been our process so far and it’s a good one to have and it’s working so we’ll continue to do that.”

After the victory over Norway, attention turns to the Lionesses’ semi-final opponents, either hosts France or holders the USA and Bright is fully aware of the qualities both teams possess:

“I think they’re both great teams, they’re attacking. I think the USA team would probably be more high tempo maybe, bit quicker, I think their athleticism is next level so that would be a great test but we’ve matched both of the teams previously in our matches so we’ll just wait and see who we get.”


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