OTTAWA - Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale is pushing hard behind the scenes to line up caucus support to become interim leader if Stephane Dion steps down Monday, party insiders say.

Sources say the unilingual Goodale appears to have substantial caucus backing but his team understands it needs a French-speaking MP as a deputy leader.

One name mentioned is MP Marcel Proulx as deputy leader.

John McCallum, the party finance critic, is also a serious player in the running. He supported Michael Ignatieff in the leadership race while Goodale back Bob Rae.

Some senior Liberals say McCallum, who is bilingual, has the inside track but that was before Goodale began his lobbying efforts.

Another name mentioned is NHL great Ken Dryden. He ran in the last leadership campaign and would not be seen as belonging to either the Ignatieff or Rae camps.

Dion is expected to announce he will step aside at a news conference scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday.

Sources close to Dion say he understands he would not be able to win a leadership review vote and he does not want to put the party through the expense of a review vote and then a leadership convention.

Another factor, say Dion advisers, is his concern that his family would suffer if he stayed to fight.

Dion has not told anyone exactly what he will do but his advisers say they expect him to step down.

He could remain as interim leader although his friends say he is "a proud man" and may not want the job if the party does not want him as party chief.

Dion will be unable to name a successor as interim leader.

That decision will be made by the caucus executive and the party's national executive, sources say.

The Liberal national executive meet at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow.

They will hear what caucus executive recommendation is on who will replace Dion as interim leader if he does step down.

A leadership convention is slated for May 1. The cut off date for new memberships is Feb 7.