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By ESPN Staff

Zola in the frame for West Ham

Gianfranco Zola has emerged as one of the two front-runners to be the next West Ham manager after impressing club chiefs in an interview today.

Zola is firmly in the frame alongside fellow Italian Roberto Donadoni after Slaven Bilic's advisors told West Ham he would not be available until January.

If the current Croatia coach sticks to that timescale then the club will not wait for him, and will look to either Zola or Donadoni, though Michael Laudrup is still in contention too.

Donadoni also made a good impression on Hammers officials when he was interviewed yesterday, while Laudrup will have talks with the club on Monday.

Zola, the former Chelsea midfielder now joint coach of the Italy Under-21 side, does have years of experience in English football under his belt and that stood him in good stead when he met club chiefs in Rome this morning.

A top-level club source told PA Sport: "Zola not only has impressive credentials but also came across incredibly well in our talks today."

The fact Zola and Donadoni are Italians could also be a factor given that West Ham's director of football Gianluca Nani is a compatriot, and that they would be much happier with the continental-style working relationship than Alan Curbishley was.

The shortlist to succeed Curbishley has now been whittled now to Zola, Donadoni and Bilic, with Laudrup still a possibility.

Bilic could resurrect his bid but he would have to change tack on his timescale - or at the very least ask to take charge of the rest of Croatia's matches this year on very much a subsidiary basis - to stay in with a chance.

West Ham's selection process has effectively ruled out Gerard Houllier and the former Scotland midfielder John Collins, plus former Ajax boss Martin Olsen.

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