“I’ve said it a few months ago [response to links] and I find it quite difficult because they have a game coming up.

More importantly for me, we have a game before that. They also have a manager in (Maurizio) Sarri who is trying to get them to win that [Europa League] final.

“It’s been a bit of an obvious link all season. We’ve had a good year and I get linked because of my 13 years with the club. I understand the link but in terms of how I’m seeing it, I don’t want to think or talk about it. I want to talk about Monday, I want to talk about the team and get this over the line.”

The 40-year-old is close to securing promotion to the Premier League. His Derby will clash vs Aston Villa in the final on May 27.

“To the Derby fans, my focus all year is how well I can do in this job. This club gave me an opportunity and I want to finish this season as well as I can. That’s why I’m focused on this game. I’m thankful for that opportunity.

“I’ve got two years left on my contract here and I see no further than Monday. I will sit down with Mel [the club’s owner] after the game, which was planned anyway. Monday’s result is going to define how we chat, to see how the club goes forward. It’s as simple as that.”

I’m thankful for that opportunity.
“I’ve got two years left on my contract here and I see no further than Monday. I will sit down with Mel [the club’s owner] after the game, which was planned anyway. Monday’s result is going to define how we chat, to see how the club goes forward. It’s as simple as that.”