WEST BROM boss Roy Hodgson believes the future of Pompey managerial target Michael Appleton will be settled ‘soon’.
David Lampitt is currently locked in compensation talks with the Baggies over their assistant head coach.
As first revealed on portsmouth.co.uk on Thursday, the Blues have identified the 35-year-old as the man they want to replace Steve Cotterill.
Sean O’Driscoll and Steve Coppell were both interviewed for the post, while Molde boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last week rejected the chance to take over at Fratton Park.
But it is Appleton who Pompey have turned to, following two meetings, as the managerial hunt reaches day 24.
Highly regarded, Appleton is eager to take his first step in football management after almost 10 years in the coaching ranks at The Hawthorns.
On Saturday, he was carrying out his duties as usual with Albion at Arsenal.
Meanwhile, joint-caretaker bosses Guy Whittingham and Stuart Gray took charge of Pompey for a sixth and final time – securing a 3-0 win over Cotterill’s Nottingham Forest.
Now Lampitt will attempt to swiftly tie up a deal to appoint the Blues’ new manager.
And West Brom boss Hodgson is expecting an agreement for Appleton to be settled quickly.
He said: ‘There is an interest in Michael, which is of no surprise at all because he’s a very good coach.
‘If the offer comes to him and he decides to take it then it will be a huge blow to us and we’ll be very sad to lose him.
‘It’s a recent event. Michael was at Arsenal on Saturday and was helping me to prepare for the game, too.
‘If anything happens then it will happen soon I would imagine.
‘We could only congratulate Portsmouth on discovering him and realising that they have potentially a very fine, good manager.
‘It’s up to Michael. If he gets an offer and wants to take it then I will back him to the hilt and then it’s down to the clubs to sort out compensation, which should be fairly soluble.’
Should the appointment go through, Appleton will be asked to work with the existing Fratton Park coaching set-up.
The club are keen for both Whittingham and Gray to remain, having continued to impress since Cotterill’s departure more than three weeks ago.
Gray, in particular, is a likely target for Cotterill at the City Ground, although Pompey provides him with the opportunity to work close to his Hedge End home.
Appleton’s remit as Blues boss will also be to oversee the development of the club from top to bottom.
Convers Sports Initiatives are eager for the successful candidate to focus on youth development and the improvement of the training ground.
For an ambitious young manager, it will be a free rein to mould a football club and build for the future.
And Pom-pey are closing in on giving Appleton that position.