MARTIN O’NEILL is top of a three-man shortlist to become Goodison gaffer.
The Republic of Ireland boss has competition from Tony Pulis — who was only axed by West Brom on Monday — and Everton caretaker chief David Unsworth.
O’Neill, 65, is the No 1 choice of owner Farhad Moshiri.
But he is likely to want a long-term deal instead of filling in for the rest of the season to get the club out of relegation trouble.
O’Neill has just taken the Irish to the World Cup final play-offs, where they lost to Denmark.
The former Leicester chief has a decent track record in the Premier League, lifting two League Cups, and also won the title with Celtic.
Pulis, axed by the Baggies after a run of 11 games without a win, would be willing to answer a Goodison SOS, however.
The Welshman can start immediately and is happy to be given a deal until the end of the season.
Everton wanted to give interim boss Unsworth a chance to get the job until the end of the season.
But his hopes took a hammering in the humiliating 5-1 home Europa League defeat by Atalanta on Thursday night.
The Toffees — who play at Southampton today — are only two points clear of the Premier League drop zone.
And they face 18th-placed West Ham on Wednesday, who are now bossed by former Goodison chief David Moyes. Everton fans will be alarmed to know that chairman Bill Kenwright is as much in the dark as they are over who will become the new boss.
It is understood Kenwright and a large faction of the club’s hierarchy are not being informed about the intentions of majority owner Moshiri.
Moshiri, who owns 49.9per cent of the club, declared going into the weekend he was ‘close’ to ending a five-week farce to replace sacked Ronald Koeman.
The Goodison chief has made numerous failed attempts to lure Marco Silva from Watford, with the angry Hornets turning down a £12million compensation offer.
While ex-England boss Sam Allardyce walked away after talks at which he was told he would only be in charge until the end of the season.
Even discredited former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has been in the frame.
All the while, however, Kenwright, who has been at the helm for 13 years, is understood to have struggled to gain an insight into Moshiri’s plans to replace Koeman.
Yet it was Kenwright who ensured the British-Iranian billionaire could move in 21 months ago.
He agreed to sell half of his 26 per cent stake in the club to Moshiri, who has since funded a £200m spending spree.