A Barnsley woman trained with the England football squad for the first time in their pre-World Cup training camp and is determined to play in future major tournaments for the Lionesses.

Bethany England, from Kingstone, scored 22 goals for top flight club Chelsea Ladies in the 2018/19 season, after also netting more than 20 on loan to Liverpool in the previous campaign. The 25-year-old, who has previously played for her country at youth level, is yet to make her senior international debut but she was invited by England manager Phil Neville to the training camp at the Football Association’s St George’s Park. 

The Lionesses are now in France for the World Cup which begins today. Bethany told the Chronicle: “After the last couple of seasons I have had, I did hope that I would be in the squad and it’s gutting to miss out.

“But it’s a really good squad and hard to break into.  “I have spoken a lot with Phil and it is hard for him to fit everyone in. I think, if he didn’t have a World Cup to prepare for, I might have had a chance in a game this season to give me some experience. 

“I got my first senior call-up to the training camp to help the girls prepare which was a really good experience. It was tough to then have to leave and not go to the World Cup but it just made me more determined to get to a major tournament in the future. 

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“There’s the Olympics next year then the European Championships the following year and, by the time of the next World Cup, I will still only be 29. Hopefully I will keep improving and get my chance.” 

Bethany is delighted with how the women’s game is growing. She said: “Women’s football is getting so much more coverage and publicity now. It’s bigger than ever before. That will only get bigger if the girls have a good World Cup. 

“When I first started, there were no girls’ teams so I had to play with the boys at Junior Tykes until I moved into girls’ football.  Now there are nearly as many girls’ teams as boys’ teams which is great.”

Bethany, who began at Doncaster Belles before moving to London, is disappointed that Chelsea lost their FA Cup semi-final to an injury-time own goal and lost 3-2 in the Champions League semi-final to eventual winners Lyon. 

She said: “On a personal note, it was probably the best season of my career and I’m really happy with how I performed. I got a lot more opportunities than before I went out on loan to Liverpool.

“As a team, we had a nearly season and it’s really disappointing that we don’t have at least one trophy to show for it. We were so close to getting to two finals but we just have to learn and move on. Next season I just want to score more goals and win some trophies.” 

Barnsley FC Ladies have also had a good season, winning the Sheffield Senior Cup. Bethany said: “I know a lot of the girls who play for Barnsley.  I am really happy for them and I hope they keep going up the leagues. I love Barnsley and I am really happy that the men’s team got promoted.”