Randy Horton and Derrick Burgess are the 'only serious contenders' for the deputy leadership of the PLP, according to party sources.

Both men have been canvassing the branches and are expected to be nominated for the role at next weekend's party conference.

Unlike the leadership ballot, contenders do not have to declare their intent to run for deputy prior to the conference. But Mr. Horton and Mr. Burgess have made their intentions clear to delegates.

It is still possible that another rival could emerge with political newcomer Michael Weekes considered a possible wildcard, though his chances of success are said to be slim because of his inexperience.

It is understood that Terry Lister would be prepared to accept the role of deputy if his leadership bid falls short. If so, he would be the clear favourite for the role.

But the Lister camp has so far been unwilling to discuss the subject with Mr. Lister still believing he can overcome Ms. Cox's lead and become leader of the PLP and the country.

If Ms Cox — a clear favourite in the polls — does lose out, she would be the obvious choice for deputy, say sources. PLP insiders believe whoever wins, some form of Cox/Lister ticket is the most likely outcome.

Other names mentioned as potential deputies in earlier newspaper reports, including Walter Roban and Michael Scott, are considered unlikely choices.

“I think that was just speculation," said one party source.

“Derrick Burgess and Randy Horton are the only ones who have been really going for it."