Mat Ryan says young players in Australia aren't getting enough game time at the crucial point of their development.
Socceroos goalkeeper Ryan, himself an A-League product through Central Coast Mariners, is one of only two Australians (along with Aaron Mooy) plying their trade in the Premier League.
He believes poor infrastructure and lack of financial support is holding back young players in Australia.
“It’s always hard to nail what it is,” the 28-year-old said to FTBL. “But the infrastructure and the financial support around football here in Australia is certainly inferior to the European countries I’ve played in.
"In Europe, the amount of academies, coaches and funding that goes into clubs from a young age and onwards gives these players the number and quality of games that ultimately develops them into world class footballers.”
“I just feel in Australia during the important age from 17-22, the NYL age limits and current A-League setup are denying young players the opportunity to play games at a high level.
“If you’re a young player at an A-League club and you’re on the bench, you’re missing out on the chance to play first team football in the NPL or even in a NYL team because of the 23-year-old age cut off.
While Ryan admits there are various routes to the top, in Australia or abroad, he insists game time is 'paramount'.
"It’s a vital period of someone’s career and if you’re missing the boat at that point in time, it’s really hard to play catch up from there," the 'keeper said.
“From my experiences in the game there’s never been a right or wrong way to go about things, each and every individual’s journey is different.
“But whether you want to be here in the A-League or playing overseas, you need to be playing a high number of games and it’s from those experiences and adversity in game-like situations where you grow as a footballer.
"I think that’s paramount to the fulfilment of a player’s potential.
"Play and play games but keep raising your standards and see how far you can get. That’s the approach I took and it worked for me.”