BOLTON Wanderers have parted company with manager Neil Lennon by mutual consent after 17 months in charge at the Macron Stadium.

The 44-year-old leaves the struggling Trotters bottom of the SkyBet Championship, 11 points adrift of safety with nine games left.

The news comes just five days after ex-Bolton striker Dean Holdsworth’s Sports Shield consortium completed their takeover of the Lancashire club, with Holdsworth becoming the new chief executive.

Academy boss Jimmy Phillips will take charge of the first team on an interim basis until a replacement can be found.

A club statement read: “All at Bolton Wanderers would like to thank Neil for his contributions during his time at the club”.

Former Leicester and Crewe midfielder Lennon has guided Bolton through a difficult season in which they almost went in to administration after racking up £179.2m in debt.

But the club, who played in the Premier League as recently as 2012, have won only four of their 37 league games this term and are six points behind 23rd-placed Charlton.

Lennon won three SPL titles, two Scottish Cups and guided Celtic into the last 16 of the Uefa Champions League during four years in charge at Parkhead before arriving at Bolton in October 2014.

Within hours of his departure, the Northern Irishman was made odds-on favourite with some bookmakers to return to former club Celtic, where he played over 300 times in a seven-year spell, and replace under-fire manager Ronny Deila.

The Trotters, who are winless in seven games, suffered their 19th defeat of the campaign last Saturday when they lost 2-1 at home to local rivals Preston North End.

Phillips will oversee his first match on Saturday against relegation rivals Bristol City at Ashton Gate (KO 15:00 GMT) as they face the improbable task of avoiding the drop to the third tier for the first time since 1993.

Southend manager Phil Brown, 56, who played for Bolton between 1988 and 1994 and spent six years as Sam Allardyce’s assistant, has been installed as the early leading contender to be the new permanent boss.

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