POMPEY fear Bolton Wanderers may snatch Eoin Doyle from their grasp.
And to muddy the waters further, it is understood other clubs are also now showing interest in the up-for-grabs Preston striker.
The Blues’ attempt to sign the 28-year-old on loan for the remainder of the season is presently hovering in limbo.
While Preston are willing to allow his temporary departure, the process has been delayed by their pursuit for a replacement, which presently is Robbie Keane.
This ensures Pompey have been left kicking their heels as they await a potential green light from the Lilywhites.
That represents frustration for Paul Cook, who has made recruiting a striker his priority ahead of Tuesday’s transfer window closure.
Another concern is the emergence of League One side Bolton as significant contenders.
Currently third in the table, Phil Parkinson is weighing up his striking options following the return of Sammy Ameobi to Newcastle.
The loanee netted four times in 24 appearances for the Trotters during a spell which has left Parkinson keen to lure him back.
Yet the Toon have yet to give the nod for the 24-year-old to go back to the Macron Stadium.
For Bolton, there is also the added complication of continuing to operate under a transfer embargo.
There is a strict one in, one out policy during what is now the third transfer window of restrictions on recruitment following financial issues.
However, Ameobi’s departure has created a squad space which Bolton are entitled to fill, prompting their interest in Doyle.
The fact the Trotters are in League One and also closer to his home in north inevitably sets them up as strong rivals to Pompey.
In Pompey’s favour, though, is boss Cook.
Cook previously managed Doyle at both Sligo and the Chesterfield, bringing out the very best in the Irishman’s talent.
Since departing the Proact Stadium for Cardiff City in February 2015, the player has struggled to discover his scoring touch.
Stepping up to the Championship has produced 10 league goals in 55 appearances, a return which contrasts considerably with his time at Chesterfield, albeit playing in lower divisions.
Fratton Park also possesses numerous faces familiar to Doyle, in addition to boss Cook.
Assistant manager Leam Richardson, Gary Roberts and Drew Talbot served with the striker during the Spireites’ title-winning League Two season and beyond.
However, it is not clear whether Doyle would be willing to drop down to League Two to reunite.
In the meantime, the clock continues to tick down ahead of Tuesday’s transfer window deadline, scheduled to close at 11pm.