Fine Gaels deputy leader Richard Bruton has been drumming up support amongst the party's front bench for his leadership challenge.

Bruton phoned many of the party's front bench over the weekend to gauge how much support he had within the party.

Bruton is expected to challenge Enda Kenny for leadership of the party tomorrow morning.

Kenny and his loyal followers are currently calling members of the 18 member Fine Gael front bench in an effort to rally support for their leader.

However Bruton supporters claim that up to two thirds of the Fine Gael front bench support are unhappy with Kennys leadership and would support his ousting.

In a stark contrast Kenny's supporters claim that only a small minority support Bruton's coup.

Senior figures within Fine Gael called for unity and urged Bruton to "pull back" from the leadership challenge.

Bruton received his first public declaration of support from Fine Gael front bencher and shadow minister of Transport Fergus O'Dowd.

Speaking from New York, O'Dowd said his allegiance would be with Bruton.

Fine Gaels chief whip Paul Kehoe appealed to Bruton to halt his leadership challenge.

"Absolutely no-one has the appetite for what has been spoken about in the media," he said.

"You will have times when people get a little bit shaky, but this is not the time to have any sort of a leadership battle . . . if there were people wanting this, I'm sure they would have been out over the last number of days."

"I'm sure that Enda Kenny will overcome any leadership challenge because he has the respect . . . Enda Kenny has had many electoral contests over the last number of years and he is proven in that . .and there's only one poll at the end of the day, and that's in the local election, the European election, or the general election."

Kenny was due to table a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Brian Cowen on Tuesday.

A recent Irish times/MRBI opinion poll showed Fine Gael falling five points in second place to the Labour party.

However Kenny has consistently polled badly as a leader with his personal rating down 7 points to 24%.

Meath MP Shane McEntee said that Kenny had support of 90% of the party.

"The people who might be talking about it should either do it out in the open or not do it at all . . . and I think the few people who have been beating around the bush for the last couple of weeks should either put up or shut up."

Speaking to reporters outside his house this morning, Bruton said he "would be guided by the majority view of his party".

Richard Bruton