WAGGA City Wanderers assistant coach Matt Menser says the best local talent must be willing to test themselves at National Premier League level to ensure the club is healthy for future generations.
The Wanderers officially returned to training on Tuesday to being preparations for their second NPL division one campaign, which begins with an ANZAC Day road clash against Narrabundah.
The club has retained most of its core squad from last year, but may add Wagga United lynchpins Adrian Merrigan and Tyler Allen.
Allen looks certain to make the move, while Merrigan is training with the Tigers and Wanderers and is yet to make an official decision.
Wagga City has set the lofty goal of a top two finish after narrowly missing finals last year and Menser, who has made the shift from Henwood Park, believes a strong campaign will go a long way to luring more Pascoe Cup talent across.
"I know a lot of people around the local scene probably get their noses out of joint but if Wagga wants to do anything with soccer and if future generations are going to do anything out of Wagga, we need to be promoting people into that environment," he said.
"We want all these good young kids to have a chance to play at the Wanderers, because if you're not you're not giving yourself the chance to be exposed to a higher level.
"For the club to progress we need to perform, and hopefully with the local environment people see it as a performing team and want to take that next step up.
"It's probably what's holding players back is (they fear) if you go over there, you might not get good results."
New coach Michael Babic has set the goal of a top two finish after the Wanderers narrowly missed finals last year.
"I don't think that's unrealistic from where they finished last year," Menser said.
"I've been resistant to it myself when I was playing locally but now we're playing in Canberra, which is two hours away, we need players to make that step up.
"There's enough travel in the local league now anyway, with six or seven out-of-town games that are almost as far as going to Canberra.
"We've got to keep a strong local comp, but people have to push forward to get into this and develop the club for future generations.
"That's what we have to think about."
Traditionally a striker, Allen showed his versatility with Wagga United last year when thrust into a role down back.
"He can play in quite a few positions, he's quick," Menser said.
"As long as he sticks it out he offers a lot of coverage around a lot of positions, which makes a difference when you don't have a super huge squad.
"He looks quite good so if he and Adrian can stick it out and are committed, it will be a real positive."
Menser is excited by the potential of some of the younger players after the club claimed last year's under-20 and under-18 premierships.
"The ability of the young guys (is promising), they were in a really successful under-20s team and from just a couple of sessions they look ready to come up and play first grade," he said.