David O'Leary has emerged as firm favourite to succeed manager Paul Hart at Portsmouth, according to informed sources on the south coast, ESPN Soccernet has been told.
Hart faces the axe if rock-bottom Pompey fail to win at home to Everton on Saturday but insists he does not fear becoming the first Premier League manager to be sacked this season despite losing his first six games.
His record of 11 defeats from 22 matches is identical to that of predecessor Tony Adams when he was fired last season. Hart stormed out of a press conference after being quizzed on his future - before what could be his final game as Portsmouth boss.
ESPN Soccernet broke the story earlier this week that the under-pressure manager had two games to save his job, the Carling Cup tie which Pompey won in midweek and now the Everton game, and that O'Leary and Glenn Hoddle would immediately leap to the top of Pompey's wanted list if Hart was sacked.
Hoddle, though, has told ESPN soccernet, that he has turned down yet another job this week, this time in Holland, to concentrate on his Academy in Spain.
A defiant Hart said: "I don't feel under pressure. Pressure from what? I want to get results, that's what I'm looking for. What have I got to fear? It's not me who is going to make decisions like that. It's not something I think about every waking hour."
Hart kept Pompey up last season but has overseen the worst start to a campaign in the club's 111-year history. Defender Younes Kaboul has scored two of Pompey's three Premier League goals.
Hart said: "We came back in pre-season with 14 players and played Benfica with eight kids. There were kids on the bench for the first few games. Then we had to do our signings 48 hours before the window closed.
"You draw your own conclusions if it's been tough or not. The team are getting used to each other and in the last two games we have shown our quality. A lot of good things have happened, we have to concentrate on them."