The Scot, 45, remains the Black Cats' preferred option to succeed David Moyes and lead next season’s Championship promotion bid.

Aberdeen are keen to hold onto McInnes, who led them to a second-place finish and runners-up in both cup competitions north of the border.

But they will not stand in his way if the ex-Bristol City boss tells them he wants to leave.

It will then come down to the level of compensation the Dons demand for the former West Brom midfielder – and even with Sunderland’s financial woes that should not prove a stumbling block.

McInnes says it will take ‘something special’ for him to leave after more than four years in charge.

But sources close to him say he is intrigued at the prospect of leading Sunderland back up.