Just five days after being named in Sarina Wiegman's maiden England squad in September 2021 and with a home European Championships approaching in the summer, Esme Morgan suffered a leg fracture. She would go on to miss the remainder of the 2021/22 campaign, and watched on from the stands as England were crowned European champions.
Writing in her 90min column during the Euros, Morgan admitted she had ambitiously (and unrealistically) targeted a comeback for the tournament and informed anyone who would listen that she was going to be fit in time. Reluctant to damped her enthusiasm, her physios didn't gently let her down until March.
But after nearly 10 months on the sidelines and over 12 months since Wiegman had initially called her up for England, the 21-year-old is back.
Having featured in the WSL and Champions League for Manchester City this term, she was named in the Lionesses squad for the upcoming friendlies with the USA and Czech Republic.
“It was a real surprise," Morgan admitted. “I was just driving to go for dinner with Lauren (Hemp) at my uncle’s and Sarina Wiegman pops up on my phone! I just looked at her and said, ‘I can’t take this now, I might crash the car or something!’
“It was funny because I was parked in front of the drive and my uncle tried to pull in and was flashing me because I was blocking the drive; obviously I was on the phone to Sarina. I was trying to wave to him and I told him: ‘That was Sarina, I’m in the squad!’
"It was amazing, I just didn’t expect it at all, so soon, but I feel I worked so hard over the last year, it feels like a reward for all the times I was at such a low point."
Wiegman is famously unsentimental, and she doesn't hand caps out just for the sake of it. However, Morgan can take heart from the belief the England boss has showed in fellow youngsters Alessia Russo, Ella Toone and Lauren Hemp - who Morgan rose through the England ranks with.
“Seeing the chances given to the young players at the Euros was a big driver for me to get back because she trusts the young players, she gives them chances," the defender added.
"Bringing Ella and Alessia on in a major final after an hour in front of 90,000 people shows a lot of trust, but for the players also that fearlessness to come into the game and make their mark, it’s inspiring to think I can do that. There’s so much talent, the training and intensity is amazing, but it’s such a big driver for me.”