ANTHONY Caceres has a big hill to climb if he wants to break into the Mariners' top-class midfield.
And it was a challenge he was delighted to be presented with, after re-signing at the Central Coast club yesterday until the end of the 2014/15 season.
Stars such as Nick Montgomery, John Hutchinson, Michael McGlinchey and Tom Rogic are ahead of Caceres in the pecking order, but the 20-year-old still has time on his side.
"We've got a great side with good depth, and I'm pretty happy with the way I'm going," he said. "The great thing about having Graham Arnold as coach is that he backs young players, and always has a back-up ready to go if there's an injury."
The western Sydney product, who has had high expectations placed on him, said he was happy to soak up plenty of advice from the likes of Rogic, who made his Socceroo debut last month, as he strives for his first A-League cap.
"Tom's my age, but I'm learning a lot off him. He's got immense talent and can play anywhere," Caceres said. "I'm not paying too much attention to what's being said about me, even though it can boost my confidence.
"I'm just trying to stay level headed like everyone else in this team."
While the Mariners might be flying in first place, and favoured to beat the seventh-placed Melbourne Heart tomorrow night at Bluetongue Stadium, Caceres said complacency did not exist at his club.
"The Heart has some decent footballers with great ability to attack, so we're not complacent," he said. "But there is a sense of disappointment from last season (bowing out to the Roar in the major semi-finals).
"We want to go one better and make the grand final this season."
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