BARROW chairman Paul Hornby insists Wanderers have not yet made an approach for their manager Ian Evatt – but accepts there will come a time when he will spread his wings.

The former Chesterfield and Blackpool defender is understood to be top of Bolton’s shortlist and odds-on favourite with the bookmakers to succeed Keith Hill at the UniBol.

Wanderers are keen to explore all their options and have held interviews this week with a handful of candidates who are currently out of work, or already in employment at the club.

They also know how much compensation it would take to prise Evatt, or a select band of other top targets, from their current clubs.

Bolton’s owners, Football Ventures, are mulling over whether to splash the cash on a manager already tied to a club – or to reinvest in the playing squad.

Hornby says – for now – he is not expecting his manager to leave.

“There’s nothing to talk about just now,” he told BBC Radio Cumbria Sport. “We were having a bit of a laugh about it last night.

“We have always said he’s a very, very good manager. He’s got a lot of skills that some managers don’t have, he’s very tenacious, he wants to be the best.

“He obviously wants to step up at some point and we know at some juncture he’ll go.

“Me and Tony (Shearer, club owner) have been very open with him and said ‘if you do well this season, your next step is the Championship.’ “He’s probably been linked with every job that has come up – Blackpool, Fylde, Bristol Rovers, Cambridge, you could write them off. But there’s nothing to know, just now.”

Hornby has also warned any would-be suitor that Evatt’s compensation would have to be paid in one fell swoop.

It is understood a fee of around £120,000 would be needed to bring the 38-year-old out to Wanderers and that fee is non-negotiable.

“We made sure when he signed his new contract there’s a golden handcuff and a massive amount of compensation there and I am unrelenting on that,” said the Barrow chairman.

“You know, if anyone did come in, there’s no instalments. If you want him you pay in one hit.”

Interviews have now taken place with a handful of free agents, including ex-Charlton Athletic and Southend boss Chris Powell, Scotland coach Steven Reid and former Grimsby Town head coach Mike Jolley.

Current Under-23s boss David Lee has also made a pitch for the job and is understood to be a strong contender.

Wanderers are keeping tight-lipped on whether any more talks will be held but with rumours of an appointment potentially being made by the end of this week, all eyes are now on whether an official approach is made for the highly-rated Evatt, who guided Barrow to promotion from the National League last season.

Evatt has spoken of his pride at leading Barrow back into the Football League, carrying on an enviable personal record.

“I was speaking to my wife and it’s crazy to think that every division I’ve played in, other than the Premier League, and have now managed in I’ve been promoted out of, which is an incredible record, really,” he said.

“What we’ve done is do everything I said we’d do; we’ve re-engaged with the community, we’ve re-engaged with the fans, we’ve got the fans back through the door and we’ve got a board of directors who are fantastically supportive.

“We’ve got an identity and a brand that I’m extremely proud of and other people look at Barrow now with jealousy because of what we’re doing on the football pitch and that again is something to be really proud of.”

Meanwhile, Wanderers have submitted their retained list to the EFL and are expected to announce the players who will not be offered new deals in the next few days.

Wanderers had until yesterday to confirm which players will be offered contracts and which of the first team and academy players will be departing.