ALEX Salmond is thought to be eyeing a return to Holyrood as the Alba Party hailed a polling breakthrough which put them on course to pick up seats in the Scottish Parliament.

Polling by Panelbase for The Sunday Times showed Alba could expect to garner 5% of the regional vote at a future Scottish Parliament election – just one point behind the LibDems.

A senior party source said that as leader of the party, it would be “very likely” Salmond would stand in a future Holyrood election.

Parties can win Scottish Parliament seats by capturing tiny shares of the vote. In 1999, Tommy Sheridan and Robin Harper were elected for the Glasgow and Lothian regions, respectively, on less than 5% of the vote each.

Alba chair Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh said: “Last week, the Alba Party turned just two years old.

READ MORE: Alba Party say 'hundreds of new members' have joined since Humza Yousaf's victory

“Throughout this entire period we have spent our energy and resources campaigning for Scottish independence

“Scotland is an energy-rich nation, but our people live in fuel poverty. Westminster is set to seize £80 billion in revenues from the North Sea over the next few years but won’t commit one single billion to planet-saving carbon capture projects in Scotland.

“We need independence to ensure that Scotland’s future is in Scotland’s hands and it is clear that the people of Scotland agree that continuity won’t cut it.

"As other parties continue to focus on self-identification, ALBA will ensure that self-determination remains the urgent and immediate priority for Scotland.”

It comes as the party accused the SNP of “holding the cause of independence back”, highlighting the same poll which also showed support for independence among decided voters at 48% - just three points over the 2014 result.

Salmond said: “We see in the opinion polls that support for the SNP is going down quite sharply but support for independence has remained at a very high level.

“So I’ve reached the conclusion that the evidence indicates that actually it is the SNP as a political party are now holding the cause of independence back.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond says ‘continuity won’t cut it’ after Humza Yousaf win

“Some of that may just be because the SNP have been in power in Scotland for 16 years, and over a period of time all governments make mistakes and become unpopular but right now you would expect, with independence so high in the polls at 48% you would think the SNP would want to focus on independence.”