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Bilic plays down link to vacant West Ham post

Slaven Bilic insists he is commited to the job of leading Croatia to the 2010 World Cup, suggesting there is little chance that West Ham United will be able to lure him to the club.

Bilic, who spent one season with the Hammers as a player, has long been linked to the manager's position at Upton Park and was installed as the early favourite following Alan Curbishley's resignation earlier this week.

He signed a new deal with Croatia to run until 2010 just before this summer's European Championships and he now seems set to honour that agreement.

Even so, Bilic did confirm that the job as boss of West Ham was one he would love to take at some point in the future.

'I always said West Ham will be my choice when I return to England,' he told Croatian sports daily Sportske Novosti. 'However, my contract with the Croatian FA expires in 2010 and I am intending to lead Croatia in this period.'

West Ham have drawn up shortlist of five coaches they wish to target and have revealed they hope to make an appointment before the club travel to West Bromwich Albion on September 13.

Bilic, Gerard Houllier, Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Donadoni and Roberto Mancini are all thought to be under consideration with former Inter Milan manager Mancini now top of the bookies' odds.

'I have asked for a comprehensive list, in terms of nationality, experience and qualifications,' West Ham vice-chairman Asgeir Fridgeirsson told BBC Sport.

'The parameters go along with what we are trying to achieve at the club. The key element is that we want this to be a sustainable club.

'It is totally inaccurate to say we have anyone lined up for the job already - we want a strong English club with English players, with its roots in the academy.'

One former West Ham player who has thrown his hat into the ring is controversial Italian striker Paolo di Canio, according to his agent Phil Spencer.

Spencer said: 'We have made moves to talk to West Ham and advised them that he [Di Canio] wants to be considered. He wouldn't be putting himself up for the job if he didn't think he was capable of doing it.

'He just wants the opportunity to sit in front of the decision-makers at West Ham to tell them what he would do and how he would take them forward.'


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