Motherwell boss Jim Gannon has hit out at his Aberdeen counterpart Mark McGhee over his public courting of Jim O'Brien.
Former Fir Park chief McGhee has admitted that O'Brien is the type of player who fits his transfer criteria amid reports that he could make a January approach for the winger.
O'Brien, who joined Motherwell while McGhee was boss, is set to be out of contract next summer and will be free to talk with any interested parties from the New Year.
Gannon accepts that there is little he can do to prevent speculation from circulating, but he believes the Dons have behaved inappropriately by announcing their interest in a player currently tied down to an SPL rival.
"I think it's symptomatic of the poor practice there might be up here, either from the journalist speculating or the manager feeding the journalist," Gannon said.
"I think it's inappropriate for any manager to comment on our players when they are under contract, regardless of the contract situation at the end of the season.
"The players have the right to speak to other clubs from 1st January, but not now, and I think it's an undue distraction. Maybe that's what they are trying to achieve.
"I've spoken to Jim, we are both exactly clear on where we both stand and how we get through this period and what we want to achieve in the long term."
While seemingly set for a battle to secure O'Brien's signature, Gannon is still hoping to persuade the 22-year-old to pen a new deal with Well.
"We spoke to Jim several months ago," Gannon said. "I still see Jim as one of the younger players.
"We've spoken at length to all of the younger players and told them about our futures at the club, what we are trying to achieve and they are buying into it. They want to be part of it.
"Jim O'Brien is at that stage now where he is ambitious and he wants to play high up, perhaps the Championship to perhaps reignite his international ambitions.
"For the moment I think he is happy playing his football, getting on with his job and he hasn't thought too long and hard about next season."