There is no chance of Sunderland luring Stephen Hunt away from Reading, according to Royals boss Steve Coppell.
Sunderland chief Roy Keane has been armed with a sizeable transfer kitty in the January transfer window and has put Hunt to the top of his list of possible targets.
A £3million bid for the Republic of Ireland international has already been rebuffed but reports have suggested a fresh £4.5million offer has been lodged.
But while Hunt has conceded he is flattered by the attention, Coppell is adamant that he will not sanction the departure of one of his top players.
"It doesn't matter. They can come calling every day - there is no positive response from us in that direction," he said.
"The reality was that they made a bid but we would like our core players to be happy staying here.
"There are some clubs that, whether we like it or not, when they come calling then it is hard to turn it down, for the club and the player.
"But he has a really strong connection with this club. He was a free transfer from Brentford when we signed him and although there is not a debt by any means he has a good feeling about this place."
Hunt's outstanding form this season has attracted admiring glances from a number of other clubs but while he showed no sign of speculation affecting his form when he scored twice in the 2-2 weekend draw with Tottenham, Coppell admits tabloid talk can be a distraction.
He added: "He is the same old Hunty. He comes in every day and gives us his all - he is one of those lovely characters that way.
"But he can't help be affected when he leaves here. Who knows who is phoning him up? I hope he can retain his focus when he is here and when he is playing for us."