England defender Millie Bright has emphasised 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 the home Euros in July as victory over Germany at Wembley saw them secure their first piece of major silverware.
Since then, World Cup qualification has been secured, and on Friday the team returned to Wembley for a friendly against reigning world champions the United States, with a 2-1 win making it 21 victories in 23 matches unbeaten under Sarina Wiegman.
Bright, skipper during the contest in the absence of the injured Leah Williamson, said: “I don’t think people understand how difficult it is to come down from the tournament like we had.
“You’ve been on the highest of highs. Then to go into club football and back into internationals, it’s a lot harder than you might think.
“We have dealt with it as a group and it’s all about the mentality of where we want to get to.
“We don’t want to stay at the level of the Euros, even though we were successful. We want to grow even more, be even better and dominate games even more than we have done and really challenge ourselves.
“We have a mindset that two feet are always on the ground and stay humble. We are preparing now for a tournament and this game against the US, win or lose, we have to stay grounded and realise that the World Cup is still so far away from us.
We don’t want to stay at the level of the Euros even though we were successful. We want to grow even more, be even better.
“There’s a lot of time to work on things. We have ground it out and we were good in parts. But you have to remind yourself that there is another level to this group. That’s super-exciting as a player. I think that’s what keeps us grounded, the environment we have created.”
Then expanding on her feeling that England could hit a new level, the 29-year-old Chelsea defender said: “100 per cent (I think that).
“In the Euros we found a way to win. We’ve done our analysis on that and that’s what came through. Of course, there’s positives because we won it. But we know we can be better.
“The group we have is very competitive. We are motivated to be better.
“We know the World Cup is a different level. A different competition with different opponents in a different country. There are all those factors that you need to contend with.
“That’s what keeps you eager to be better. Every day in training higher standards are being demanded.”
The victory, in front of a crowd of 76,893, was a first for England since 2017 against the US, who beat them 2-1 in the semi-finals en route to winning the 2019 World Cup.
Asked if it was something of a statement, Bright said: “Yes, it was – but the World Cup is a long way away. That’s a tough US side at Wembley with an amazing crowd, we were always looking to send a message. But we focus on ourselves, we are always trying to better ourselves.
“We have a different mentality off the back of the summer, but we still know the journey we want to take and where we want to go.”
The Lionesses took the lead via Lauren Hemp’s 10th-minute finish before Sophia Smith equalised just prior to the half-hour mark.
Georgia Stanway then netted what proved to be the winning goal three minutes later with a penalty awarded following a VAR check, with another soon after seeing Trinity Rodman’s effort for the US ruled out for offside.
England are next in action on Tuesday when they face the Czech Republic at the Amex Stadium, and conclude their fixtures for 2022 by taking on Japan and Norway in Spain next month.