Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes sorry for Mark Warburton as he plays down Gers link

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes has expressed sympathy for Mark Warburton - but scoffed at suggestions he is ready to become his Rangers replacement.

Warburton's time at Ibrox ended last Friday in shambolic fashion, with the club claiming their manager had resigned - only for the Englishman to deny he had quit.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has played down reports linking him with the vacant Rangers job

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has played down reports linking him with the vacant Rangers job

The ins and outs of that debate are likely to be settled in the courts but for now Gers are on the hunt for a new boss.

McInnes' impressive performance with the Dons - whom he led to a League Cup triumph back in 2014 - has been recognised by the bookmakers, with his name second only behind ex-Rangers and Scotland boss Alex McLeish, the frontrunner to land the job on an interim basis.

But speaking to the media ahead of the Pittodrie side's midweek Ladbrokes Premiership clash with Motherwell, McInnes insisted his focus remained firmly on his current posting in the Granite City.

He said: "I've never been one to talk about speculation and rumour and gossip and I don't see why another club's speculation affects what I am doing.

"This is a press conference about the Motherwell game tomorrow. I am fully focused on my job here.

"My only concern is about focusing on Aberdeen.

"Rangers are a strong club with a lot of tradition and there will always be people interested in that - but my concern is on Aberdeen."

Gers chairman Dave King released a critical statement in the wake of Warburton's exit in which he questioned his former manager's signing policy, while also claiming the former city trader was using Gers as a stepping stone to the English Premier League.

The former Brentford boss is now consulting the English League Manager's Association as he decides his next course of action.

But McInnes admits he was sad to see the 54-year go after just 18 months in charge.

"It's disappointing to see a manager lose his job," he said. "I always liked Mark and certainly in the initial period he did really well.

"He was still in the mix for second spot and was still in the Scottish Cup - but for whatever reason there has been a change."

As well as McLeish and McInnes, St Johnstone's Tommy Wright, former Nottingham Forrest manager Billy Davies and ex-Gers defender Frank De Boer - out of work since being sacked by Inter Milan in November - are also in the running.

Press Association Sport understands, however, that the Ibrox board are willing to take their time with their search and have already received "several" approaches from willing applicants.

King has already confirmed he will consider appointing an interim manager if it allows him time to land his preferred candidate this summer, while he is also mulling over the addition of a director of football to the club's management structure.

Under-20's coach Graeme Murty was placed in charge for Sunday's 2-1 Scottish Cup win over Morton and is likely to be in charge again when the Glasgow giants head to Dundee next weekend.

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