Barnsley woman Bethany England netted her first league goal of the season for Chelsea Ladies this week and hopes to go on a scoring run which gets her into Phil Neville’s England squad for next summer’s World Cup.
The 24-year-old forward from Kingstone was loaned out by the Blues to Liverpool last season where she was one of the top-scorers in the Women’s Super League. She has five goals in total this season including in Sunday’s 5-0 league thrashing of Yeovil.
Bethany – who has represented her country at under 19 and under 23 level but is yet to make her senior debut – is hoping to catch the eye of former England and Manchester United player Neville ahead of next summer’s World Cup in France.
She told the Chronicle: “Last season there was a lot of chat on social media about me getting a call-up when I was doing well for Liverpool. It is a very tough team to break into. Phil is bringing young players in so hopefully I can get in there if I keep playing a lot and scoring a lot.“I like to think that one day I will be called up and it will be the best day ever.
“I would love to go to the World Cup, it would be a life-changing experience and a massive honour. You saw earlier this year how the country really got behind the men’s team in their World Cup and, although women’s football is different, hopefully the same thing could happen for the women’s team. I will just keep working hard and see what happens.”
One of the mainstays of that men’s team which reached the semi-finals in Russia was ex-Red John Stones, from Thurlstone. England and Stones were born just six days apart in 1994 in Barnsley and she is hoping to emulate his achievements.
Bethany said: “I have followed John’s career since he was at Barnsley then Everton and now Manchester City. It’s good that someone from Barnsley is playing for England and I would love to follow in his footsteps.”
Bethany, who made her name at Doncaster Rovers Belles, is part of a Chelsea team who are third in the top flight and have reached the last eight of the Champions League.
She said: “Going to Liverpool was the best loan move I could have made. I grew up a lot and improved a lot. I was only knocked off the leading scorer spot for the league in the last game of the season.
“Most players who go on loan from Chelsea don’t come back but it’s really good to be back in their team. I have had quite a lot of gametime, more than I thought I would. We started a bit slowly and we have had too many draws but we are improving now.
“We’re in the Champions League quarter-finals. Last year they made the semi-finals but we’re hoping to go one better. It’s been a great experience going to Sarajevo and Florence in previous rounds – you can’t get any better than travelling and playing football at such a high level for your job. We’ve got PSG next which will be another good trip to Paris and a great game. It’s an unbelievable experience.”
Although she is playing at the top level of the sport, Bethany has been keeping an eye on the progress of Barnsley FC Ladies who are in the fourth tier but are hoping to reach at least the Women’s SuperLeague Two in the next five years.
“I know a lot of the girls who play in that team and I follow their progress on social media. It’s good that they are on a good run and that they seem to be improving as a club.
“It’s really good for the town to have a successful women’s club because there are a lot of young girls coming through who love football. I couldn’t be more proud to be from Barnsley.
“In the future, it would be good to play for them if they are high enough in the leagues or maybe if I am coming towards the end of my career. It would be a fitting way to finish.”