Alan Cawley has no issue with Shamrock Rovers fielding a second team in the SSE Airtricity League First Division and the RTE soccer pundit believes the Hoops should be applauded for taking the initiative.

The side, which will be known as Shamrock Rovers II, will be managed by former captain Aidan Price who will work off a core squad of 12-14 players, while bringing players up from the under-age sides and using an agreed allocation from the first team squad.

The Rovers II side will are set to kick off their campaign away at Longford Town on Saturday, 22 February, however, that fixture remains under a cloud with several First Division sides still objecting to the inclusion of the Hoops' second team.

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Cawley, however, sees absolutely nothing wrong with either the concept or the practice and the former Shelbourne midfielder believes that Rovers should be applauded for developing the young players at their club.

"I know there has been a lot of criticism about it but Shamrock Rovers are putting a team in to develop their players," said Cawley, speaking on this week’s RTE Soccer Podcast.

"I’m praising Shamrock Rovers for this because they feel they have a brilliant youth set-up and academy and the lads are getting to 19 and there is nothing after that for them.

"And then they have to let lads go because there is too big a gap from there to the first team, so if they are prepared to put in a team for their betterment, then I applaud them for that.

"It is not Shamrock Rovers’ problem that there is nothing in between the Under-19 and first team set-up, that’s an FAI or the league’s problem."

Young Shamrock Rovers academy player Kevin Zefi (centre) in action for the Ireland Under-15s

Cawley understands some of the concerns that the other clubs have in regard to allowing the Rovers side to compete, but once the rules of player usage are drawn up, there should be no barrier to allowing it to happen.

"The only thing you might need to sort out the complexities of the situation as to whether they are allowed two overage players or three.

"It’s not as if Jack Byrne will be playing in the First Division.

"Teams are giving out that they will demean the league, but they will be playing in Tallaght Stadium a beautiful stadium – look at some of the other grounds around the First Division.

"The experience they will be gaining playing men’s football every week, it will be brilliant for them.

"And if Stephen Bradley and the first team are to benefit from that in the long run, that’s their club, that is what they are entitled to do."