England captain Millie Bright is available to start the Lionesses’ opening World Cup match against Haiti after recovering from a knee injury, manager Sarina Wiegman has confirmed.
Bright missed the final two months of the 2022-23 campaign with a knee injury sustained during Chelsea’s Champions League quarter final against Lyon in March and faced a race to be fit for this summer’s tournament.
The centre-back made her return to action in England’s behind-closed-doors friendly against Canada on July 14 and Wiegman declared her fit to start for Saturday’s group stage fixture.
When asked if Bright was ready to start against Haiti, Wiegman replied: “Absolutely, yes. We’re happy. This was the plan. The plan worked and Millie is ready to play.”
Bright, who will captain the side in the absence of the injured Leah Williamson, added: “Personally I just went day by day to start with. It’s important to be in the present and not look too far ahead. I removed the pressure of not being fit. I’m confident I do everything I can for the team to put myself in the best position for my recovery.
“When you’re surrounded by the best people, I was very confident in my recovery. I’ve been given absolutely everything that I needed to be in this position that I’m in so I’m grateful that I’m able to play.”
The buildup to the 2023 World Cup has featured a number of disputes between players and federations, with England caught up in one of their own.
England and the FA failed to reach a resolution in their dispute over bonuses and Bright released a statement on behalf of the squad on Tuesday, expressing their disappointment that a solution had not been found.
The defender insisted that this would not act as a distraction during the tournament and the team’s attention was now on the football.
“It’s not a situation anyone wanted to be in, Bright added. “As players we’re not programmed to play football, we need to have these conversations. Everyone has now seen the statement, so as players our head is in the game. We’ll address these questions at a later date.”
Wiegman added: “Maybe you call it noise, there have been conversations. I haven’t noticed anything about that. When we go on the pitch, everyone is aligned, and everyone is focused on football.”
Following Saturday’s match against Haiti, England play Denmark on July 28 and China on August 1.
Who should start the Women’s World Cup for England? Our writers give their verdicts
(Photo: Matt Roberts – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)