Pompey’s hopes of bringing Marc McNulty back to Fratton Park are fading.
Mansfield have stolen a march in the pursuit of the in-demand striker and now appears to be his likely destination.
Bristol Rovers and Coventry City are also believed to be in the running, while Paul Cook is another to have been chasing the Scot.
Yet the Stags are prepared to offer the greater financial package, in addition to regular first-team football.
And that could be enough to lure McNulty into League Two following his release from Sheffield United.
The 24-year-old finished as Pompey’s leading scorer during a loan spell from the Blades in the 2015-16 campaign.
He has previously made no secret of his desire to return to Fratton Park in the future, having revelled in his time on the south coast.
Likewise, Cook remains a fan of the striker, who has subsequently endured a frustrating season with Sheffield United and also during a Bradford loan spell.
He is desperate for the opportunity of regular action, which in turn throws up the question whether that can occur at Fratton Park in Cook’s favoured system.
McNulty registered only one goal this season – for Bradford against Southend in October 2016.
However, his stock remains high with those at Pompey, following a successful loan stint which contributed reaching the play-off semi-finals in 2015-16.
Regardless of the outcome of the Blues’ interest, Cook is desperate to bolster his strikeforce for League One next season.
Eoin Doyle has returned to Preston and Curtis Main is out of favour.
Although veteran Noel Hunt has been told the club would like to keep him for next term.