Ed Balls said he was in talks with broadcasters over staging a televised election debate with George Osborne – and predicted the Chancellor would accept the invitation.
If the event takes place it will increase pressure on David Cameron to appear in a leaders' debate. The chances of that head-to-head taking place appear to be fading in the face of Downing Street resistance.
Mr Balls, the shadow Chancellor, said he had been approached by broadcasters to take part in an economic debate. A similar event took place during the last general election campaign.
Mr Balls said: "I have not spoken to (Osborne) and I've had no indication, but I know George Osborne quite well and he'll be up for a debate.
"Whatever I think of George Osborne – and we disagree on lots and lots of different things – I've never thought he was somebody who tried to duck debates. I've never thought of him as being somebody who was a coward."
Meanwhile Mr Cameron rebuked broadcasters over their intensive coverage of the controversy over TV debates.
"Some news outlets find it hard to talk about anything else," he told reporters in Washington.Reuse content