Crewe boss Dario Gradi believes their homegrown players hold the key on whether the team can improve on last season's 10th-placed finish.
The League Two side have yet to add to their squad this summer after releasing all of their trialists.
Gradi told BBC Radio Stoke: "If we're going to do anything next season we have got to have players doing better.
"I have a lot of players who think they should be playing at higher level now they have to prove they can step up."
He added: "These players have plenty of league games under their belts now and its time to deliver."
Ashley Westwood, Luke Murphy, Shaun Miller, Byron Moore, and Matt Tootle have attracted no interest from any other clubs.
And Gradi has identified the next set of academy graduates who he hopes can increase competition for places in the first team.
He wants England Under-17s duo Nick Powell and Max Clayton to make their mark in League Two stage next term and also hopes fellow first-year professionals Brendan Daniels, Jason Oswell and Ollie Turton can prove to be effective fringe players.
"Players like Brendan and Jason are not going to go into the side and make us a promotion side," he said. "But these boys have to go in and fill a hole if they are needed."