The Tallaght-based side are already seven points behind Dundalk
Shamrock Rovers are "a few players short" of having a title challenge in 2016 according to former defender Dan Murray.
Speaking to Newstalk's SSE Airtiricity League podcast, the recently retired defender spoke to Oisin Langan and Richie McCormack after watching the Tallaght-based side lose 2-0 on Monday night to another of his former teams, Cork City.
Murray was a defensive stalwart during Shamrock Rovers' European run in 2011. He captained the side during the group stages of the Europa League and feels they are lacking a player in the centre of defence that can take charge of a game. "They definitely need a leader in there. Their back four and goalkeeper looked pretty poor (against Cork). If you haven't got that playing well, whatever you do otherwise, it's not going to help".
The Cambridge-born defender was surprised by Pat Fenlon not playing what Murray thought was their strongest team in Turner's Cross. "If they have their best team out they'll be alright. They have goals in them".
The Premier Division season is only nine games old, and Shamrock Rovers are already seven points behind leaders Dundalk. Murray cannot see the squad challenging for the league title. "From watching them from the outside, I don't think they can put a challenge on to win the league. The squad just doesn't seem strong enough to be able to cope when you have a couple of suspensions and injuries."
"It looks like they are definitely lacking a few players. It's hard to know. They will probably have to get rid of players before they can get players in."
The 2010 and 2011 champions are currently in sixth place and the 33-year-old feels the Tallaght faithful wont let the team rest on their laurels, so far down the table. "I dont think the top-three or four is good enough for the supporters. They wont just stand by and let the team to be happy to finish third or fourth."
Pat Fenlon's team return to action on Friday night, with a game at home against Bray Wanderers.