Depth the key to Wanderers success

Their A-League season is just one week away but Western Sydney Wanderers' players are still no closer to knowing where they sit in the pecking order such is the strength of competition for starting places.

Coach Tony Popovic has assembled one of their strongest squads in terms of depth and not even the more high-profile recruits have been guaranteed a place in the match day squad for the opening round.

Former Aston Villa midfielder and Australian international, Chris Herd, is one of those players not assured a place for next Sunday's match against Perth Glory at Spotless Stadium.

With approximately $300,000 added to the A-League salary cap this season, the Wanderers have used the additional funds to recruit a larger squad with a clear emphasis on building quality of depth that has kept players like Herd on their toes.

The club has 26 players contracted to the first team, one of the biggest in the competition. By contrast, Melbourne Victory have only 21 players contracted, so too Perth Glory and Sydney FC who have not included players contracted to youth teams.

With a considerably larger squad than most, the fight to make the team sheet at the Wanderers hasn't gone unnoticed by Herd who believes Western Sydney have every reason to be confident about this season with such internal competition.

"We have two great players in each position. That's the best thing about it, we never know who's going to play so we have to be at our best all the time," Herd said. "We've got a great group of players who are all very capable of doing well this season. The professionalism here is second to none and that's a great environment to be in and a great environment to develop my football."

Herd made 36 appearances in the English Premier League for Aston Villa before injuries and non-selection hampered his progress, limiting his international career to just three games for Australia since.

However, he is hopeful of adding to that international tally by regaining form in the A-League and establishing himself as a regular at Western Sydney. Herd was part of the 2015 Asian Cup squad and says he is hopeful of earning a call-up for the 2018 World Cup, should the Socceroos qualify.

"It should be part of every Australian player playing in the A-League or overseas. You should have goals in your career. I have a goal, my main goal is here at the Wanderers. That [national team selection] is in the back of my mind but if I don't perform well here with my club then nothing is possible," he said. "If I do well enough and deserve a place in the team then who knows what happens in that regard. It's about establishing myself at the Wanderers, then we go from there."

Herd ended a 13-year career in England after departing League One club Gillingham last season. He flirted with returning to the A-League in 2016 before family reasons scrapped a move to Perth Glory but he said the Wanderers mission statement convinced him to finally come back to Australia.

"The ambition here is to win every trophy that we play in and that's the greatest ambition to have," he said.

This story Depth the key to Wanderers success first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.