Michael Appleton’s unlikely cameo in the England manager saga has got Pompey fans fearing the worst.
Appleton is third favourite with the bookies to succeed Roy Hodgson as boss at the Hawthorns.
The 36-year-old has moved in from 12/1 to a 8/1 shot to return to the club he left for Fratton Park in November.
Administrator Trevor Birch has moved to fend off any suitors, including the Baggies, for Appleton’s service.
There’s little doubt the man from Salford is now the biggest asset Pompey possess.
Throughout the club’s troubles he has emerged as figurehead for the Fratton faithful to look towards.
Pompey may have been relegated but the circumstances behind that has ensured Appleton’s standing has only improved as a result of his conduct.
Appleton is still highly regarded at his former midlands club.
The ex-Manchester United man was seen as a long-term project when he took on a coaching role aged just 27, after being forced into early retirement because of a knee injury.
Appleton was brought through the academy age group sides and into the first-team picture and was being groomed as a future West Brom boss.
Chairman Jeremy Peace was a big fan of Appleton’s attributes as a player and there has been much to be impressed about since he started coaching.
But has the opening at West Brom arrived just a little to early for him?
The word in the midlands is the club are looking for a more experienced option to turn to as they look for their new appointment.
The men ahead of Appleton in the betting – Chris Hughton and Alan Curbishley – tick the boxes on that front.
There is another meaningful factor that will keep Appy at Fratton Park, though.
No one could begrudge the Pompey boss walking away from the club if the opportunity arose, after all that has gone before.
But Appleton is a man of principle and his determination to see through what he has started at Pompey will be the decisive factor in staying put.