Championship club Hull City say they would not welcome an approach from Aston Villa for manager Steve Bruce.
Bruce, 55, is a candidate to succeed the sacked Remi Garde, along with Nigel Pearson, David Moyes and Sean Dyche.
“No approach had been made nor would one be welcome,” a spokesman for Hull, fourth in the table, told BBC Sport.
Former Villa player and manager Brian Little, who recently joined the club’s board of directors, will play a key role in the selection process.
However Villa, bottom of the table and 12 points adrift of safety with seven games to play, are in no rush to make an appointment.
Villa want a British manager to succeed Garde, BBC Sport understands.
Former Leicester manager Pearson and ex-Manchester United boss Moyes have been tipped as replacements.
Bruce, who has been with Hull since 2012, and Burnley manager Dyche are also possible candidates.
The board’s recommendation will need to be passed by Randy Lerner, the club’s American owner, before a final decision.
Former Villa striker Garry Thompson says the next boss needs to know the Championship, which is where the club are likely to be playing next season.
He also says Garde’s successor needs to have broad shoulders.
“People don’t realise what a massive club Aston Villa is,” Thompson, who played for the club in the late 1980s, told BBC Radio WM.
“You’ve got to be strong enough and big enough to carry this thing. Obviously, Remi wasn’t.”
Bruce guided Birmingham City to the Premier League in 2002 and 2007, before doing the same with Hull in 2013.