Socceroos coach Graham Arnold says a national reserves competition or second division is vital to fill a vacuum of opportunity for emerging players.
Arnold says Australian footballers aged between 17 and 22 suffer from a lack of chances to develop in a professional environment.
The vacuum, in turn, will impact on the Socceroos, Arnold says.
“It’s a crucial thing that needs to be fixed,” Arnold told reporters on Friday.
“The most important thing is the development between the ages of 17 to 21, 22.
“I’m not saying that kids need to play the A-League – if they’re not good enough to play in the A-league, then they shouldn’t play in the A-League. “But give them somewhere to play.
“So maybe a reserve grade competition is a great opportunity or maybe, as the FFA (Football Federation Australia) is talking about, a B-League.
Something like that to get the kids in a professional environment and to develop the kids so they have a chance to become professional footballers.”
FFA has tasked a working group with examining implementing a potential A-League second division from 2021.
But some club owners believe a reserves competition would be more viable financially.
Arnold said a recent meeting with renowned Dutch coach Adriaan de Mos crystallised his thinking.
“I said to him: ‘what has been the biggest turn in Dutch football?”Arnold said.
“He said ‘we stopped trying to compete with the big-money nations, we lowered our expectations and decided to fund youth development and build a second division’.”
Arnold’s comments came amid his six-week scouting mission in Europe ahead of the start of Australia’s World Cup qualifying campaign, which opens with an away fixture against Kuwait on September 10.
Arnold said he had met with about 27 potential squad members while in Europe, with a simple message underpinning his World Cup qualifier plans.
“We have dominated so many games since I have been in charge and it’s time that we finish teams off,” he said.
“Be ruthless. Every time we have played lately … we have created a lot of chances and not scored.”