Former Socceroo David Carney plans to build on the platform laid by Luke Wilkshire if he wins the race to become the next Wollongong Wolves coach.
Wilkshire will depart at the end of the season to take up the position of head of youth development at the Central Coast Mariners.
That has seen the Wolves become one of the hottest coaching gigs in the state, a number of local and international candidates throwing their hats into the ring.
With applications closing on Friday, Carney has emerged as the leading contender for the position.
A decision on the coach is likely to be made over the weekend, with an announcement expected next week.
Should he get the job, Carney has big shoes to fill.
Wilkshire led the Wolves to the NSW National Premier Leagues premiership and the national championship in his first year in charge.
Given that success, Carney is hoping to build on the work Wilkshire has done over the past four years.
"I've seen what Luke has done for the club and the community," Carney said. "I've seen the professional environment he's installed at the Wollongong Wolves since he came in.
"I've got to take over from what Luke's done and add to it, keep improving. I've got to keep doing what Luke's doing and keep the club moving forward."
Carney enjoyed a highly-successful playing career that saw him turn out for the likes of Sheffield United, Norwich City, Sydney FC and the New York Red Bulls.
He also represented his country on 48 occasions, including the 2010 World Cup alongside Wilkshire.
Upon retiring in 2018, Carney transitioned into coaching in a bid to help develop the next generation of Australian footballers.
It's a mindset that is key to the job at the Wolves, the club boasting a proud history of producing Socceroos, including Wilkshire and Scott Chipperfield.
"They love their football in Wollongong," Carney said. "Producing footballers is part of their history. If you look at Luke, Scott Chipperfield, Adam Federici, they're all from Wollongong.
"I'd love to help bring a lot more players like that through to the Socceroos.
"If any time is the chance to break into the team, it's now. There's a big window with players rotating in and out. If I can play a part and help Wolves juniors play for the Socceroos, even if it's just one, it would be great."
Now living in Thirroul, Carney has made a number of appearances at Wolves training in recent weeks. He will also be in attendance at Friday night's clash with Northbridge at WIN Stadium.
Wollongong enter the contest desperate to return to form after a 4-3 loss to Sydney United last Sunday.
Wilkshire and Carney have known each other since their respective playing days.
While the transition to coaching isn't always easy, Wilkshire said his former teammate has all the skills required to succeed in the new role.
"Carns is a former Socceroo, he's played around the world," Wilkshire said. "Those life experiences in football are priceless. You can't learn those experiences in a classroom.
"At the same time, going into coaching is a different kettle of fish.
"It's not for everyone, but if you do have that desire to be a coach and apply yourself, Carns has all the ingredients to be successful."
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