Sunderland managerial target Derek McInnes has insisted it would take "something special" for him to want to leave Aberdeen.
The Dons boss is understood to be on a shortlist of candidates Sunderland would like to talk to as they step up their attempts to replace David Moyes in the hotseat at the Stadium of Light.
Moyes resigned last Monday in the wake of relegation to the Championship and chief executive Martin Bain is leading the search for a new manager.
McInnes remains the strong favourite for the job and the Echo understands he is interested in the role.
The Scot, though, insists it would take "something special" for him to leave his job at Aberdeen with the suggestion it won't be easy to lure him away.
Sunderland are aiming to interview candidates this week.
In the wake of Saturday’s Scottish Cup final defeat at the hands of Celtic, McInnes told the Daily Record: "I’ve said it often enough, I love working here.
"I think it’s a brilliant club, I feel at home here.
“It would take something special for me to want to leave."
McInnes is the clear favourite with Nigel Clough second favourite for the job.
Meanwhile, as reported by the Echo Preston North End boss Simon Grayson has emerged as another possible contender for the Sunderland job.
McInnes, though, insists his focus is on recruitment at Aberdeen with the Dons also braced for a busy summer.
"The work’s ongoing," added McInnes. "Totally. For the past seven, eight months, we’ve been trying to implement bringing players in here.
"We’ve anticipated a few players leaving, We tried really hard to keep one or two, with some being late on in terms of saying they were leaving.
"But the work’s been ongoing, it’s constant. You don’t get a chance to stop and reflect.
"From tomorrow on the focus is on recruitment and getting good players in.
"I feel as though I look to my players to make sure we get good players working in the building and ready to go again."
Gary Monk must be considered a serious contender for Sunderland given his record at Leeds United but his odds have drifted and relegation rivals Middlesbrough are understood to be leading the race to land him as their next boss, with Nigel Pearson also heavily linked with both jobs.
Monk and Pearson are both expected to hold interviews with Middlesbrough this week.