Luke Wilkshire has warned Australia's aspiring Socceroos they have their work cut out to replace the veterans on the campaign to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
A star of two FIFA World Cup finals, Wilkshire, who turns 31 in October, has been a mainstay for his country and believes rookies like Chris Herd, Ryan McGowan, Mitch Langerak, Jason Davidson, Matthew Leckie, Mustafa Amini, James Holland and Luke DeVere must work hard to earn their place in the team.
"We older players realise that with each year the opportunities become more limited, which concentrates the mind and helps you make the most of every chance you get," Wilkshire said, ahead of Australia's clash against Scotland at Edinburgh's Easter Road.
"There are a few younger boys now pushing for places, but it's not about coming in and making an impression for one or two games.
"It's about stepping in, blending in and performing regularly at a level that satisfies the coach.
"The challenge for the younger players at international level, and also club level, is achieving consistency.
"You often see players emerge for their clubs, or even their countries, have half a dozen games and then nobody hears from them again."
The Dynamo Moscow midfielder, who broke through for his country at the 2006 World Cup in Germany under the guidance of Guus Hiddink, insists he, Tim Cahill, Mark Schwarzer, Harry Kewell, Brett Emerton, Mark Bresciano, Lucas Neill and Sasa Ognenovski will not easily be pushed aside.
"It's really about performance, not necessarily age. The young players knocking on the door now know it's not easy. It' up to them to make an impression," Wilkshire said.
"It's also about absorbing the culture of the team, it's work ethic and it's values. These are all things the youngsters need to learn - and that can take time."
Schwarzer, who turns 40 in October, exemplifies the qualities needed to forge a long international career.
"His commitment and motivation to keep going is an example to us all," Wilkshire said.
"I joke with him that he's old enough to be my dad but what he continues to do is an inspiration to the rest of the boys.
"To really want to keep going and improving at the age of 39 says a lot about the sort of person he is."
Wilkshire, approaching his 67th cap, is expected to link down the right with Middlesbrough's Rhys Williams when Australia faces Craig Levein's Scotland.
And after avoiding major injuries in his career, he feels on top of his game.
"I am enjoying my football as much as ever and every time a national team opportunity comes I still feel as excited as I ever did," he said.
"I still have things I want to achieve with the national team, to work and strive for and that's the way all the experienced boys feel."
Wilkshire has put no time limit on his own career.
"I am not looking much beyond this season," he said.
"I have a couple years left on my contract at Dynamo Moscow and I know how things can change in football. You never know what's around the corner.
"But I definitely want to play on as long as the body lets me and I feel I have a few good years left."
Even a return home to play in the A-League is in Wilkshire's long-term thinking.
"Who knows, it's a possibility," he said.
"The A-League is something that is always in the back of your mind and is always something brought up from time to time.
"I have been overseas nearly 14 years ago, that's nearly half my life.
"Australia is always going to be home. Every time I fly back I feel a buzz, it's something that is hard to explain."