Pompey have moved to make Michael Appleton their next manager.
The News understands the Blues have approached West Brom in an effort to land Roy Hodgson’s respected assistant.
Bookies yesterday again closed the Pompey manager market after receiving a string of bets on Appleton to get the role, as first revealed at portsmouth.co.uk.
It’s another twist in the ongoing managerial saga as the team geared up for Steve Cotterill’s return tomorrow with Nottingham Forest.
Baggies boss Hodgson insisted he knew nothing of a move for his assistant coach at his weekly press briefing.
It is understood, however, Pompey are keen on the highly-regarded 35-year-old.
West Brom would fight hard to keep hold of the man who they are grooming to become their future manager.
The latest development follows on from Steve Coppell also emerging as a late contender to succeed Cotterill.
The former Reading boss matches plenty of the criteria laid down by the club’s owners and chief executive David Lampitt, and is understood to be keen on the job.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s name has excited supporters but all the indications are he has no intention of leaving his post with Norwegian champions Molde – with some latest speculation he turned down the Pompey job.
Sean O’Driscoll has heard nothing from the Blues after being interviewed, with it appearing there are preferred options to the former Doncaster boss.
Pompey defender Jason Pearce believes his team have to put all the managerial talk to one side and focus on Forest.
And he insists that also has to be the case when it comes to former boss Cotterill returning.
Pearce said: ‘I haven’t heard anything yet (about the managerial situation). I’m not told who it’s going to be.
‘We’ll wait and see and keep going along with our day job.
‘It’s a massive game for us, though, against Forest.
‘They are a good team with a lot of good players but so are we.
‘We need to start showing we’re a good team and putting a little run together.
‘We need a good performance, to do that and prepare right.
‘We go into the game with confidence after Palace.
‘It would be nice to get one over Steve!
‘It will be a bit weird. I guess it’s part of football, though.
‘But obviously the main focus is to get three points. You have to get on with the job.’
Appleton has made a big impression with West Brom after being forced to retire from the game at the age of 27.
He’s been brought through the club’s coaching set-up, overseeing the Academy and reserves, before becoming first-team coach and now Hodgson’s number two.
With Hodgson’s current agreement running until the end of the season, Appleton was seen as a potential successor to the 64-year-old.
But sources in the midlands believe the immediate chance to become his own boss would appeal to the man who came through the ranks at Manchester United.
Today marks three weeks since Cotterill departed from Pompey for Forest but caretaker boss Guy Whittingham is still waiting on developments.
He said: ‘We’re not aware of anything moving.
‘We’ll carry on as we are until we are told differently.’