Bolton chairman Phil Gartside will begin the task of identifying a new manager with former Italy goalkeeper Walter Zenga emerging as a surprise candidate.

While Chris Evans and Steve Wigley will stand in for the sacked Gary Megson ahead of Saturday's FA Cup tie with Lincoln at the Reebok Stadium, Gartside knows he needs to act fast.

With Bolton consigned to the relegation zone and a trip to Sunderland sandwiched between two meetings with Arsenal after the Lincoln encounter, Gartside cannot afford to hang around.

A succession of candidates have already been mentioned, including former Wigan manager Paul Jewell and Peter Reid, currently assistant manager at Stoke but a hero amongst the Trotters supporters from his playing days.

Indeed, Jewell was at the Reebok Stadium on Tuesday as a guest of Megson to watch Bolton throw away a two-goal lead against Hull and now finds himself in the uncomfortable position of being nominated as a potential successor to his friend.

"I find it embarrassing as I was at the Hull game with my son as a guest of Gary. There was no ulterior motive," he told the Daily Mail.

"I just thought it would be an interesting game to watch. I am not one of those managers who sits in the stands to be seen or to put any kind of pressure on other managers."

Mark Hughes does appear to be the fans' favourite given another former Bolton player, Owen Coyle, is not interested. However, with Italian managers currently in vogue, reports from Serie A claim that Zenga has been approached.

The 49-year-old has managed a string of clubs in Europe, including Steaua Bucharest, Red Star Belgrade, Dinamo Bucharest and current club Palermo.

He also speaks English, which would be an advantage if he was to join Fabio Capello, Carlo Ancelotti, Gianfranco Zola and Roberto Mancini in a growing band of Italians plying their trade in England.

Coyle would definitely be a hugely popular choice with the fans, with the former Wanderers player having a close relationship with Phil Gartside - the Bolton chairman recommended him for the Turf Moor job - and may feel he has taken Burnley, with their limited finances, as far as he can.

Darren Ferguson is considered a bright prospect in the game and is without a club following his acrimonious split with Peterborough, who he took into the Championship following two successive promotions. But, at 37 and without experience of life in the top flight, he would represent a gamble.

Glenn Hoddle and Alan Curbishley are both available, while an Alan Shearer and Gary Speed partnership has been mooted, with Wanderers believed to be keen to see Speed, part of the backroom staff at Sheffield United, return to the club he represented with such distinction over three-and-a-half seasons.

Another former player whose progress has not gone unnoticed at the Reebok is Dean Holdsworth, who is in charge of Welsh side Newport County, the runaway leaders of the Conference South. But he lacks managetial experience at league level.