Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes says there is "a chance" of retaining captain Graeme Shinnie but admits it is "extremely unlikely".
Shinnie, 27, is out of contract at the end of the season and has had discussions with Derby County.
McInnes said the midfielder would be "difficult to replace", describing him as the "heartbeat of the team".
He also said it was "not ideal" to find out about Shinnie's Derby talks prior to the Scottish Cup semi-final.
Shinnie missed Aberdeen's 3-0 defeat by Celtic at Hampden through suspension three days after news broke of the English Championship club's interest.
"I've been asking him for months and months about what his future holds and then it blows up before the semi-final," said McInnes.
"It's up to Graeme to sort out his future. There's been certain clubs interested that he just wouldn't entertain and we thought we would still have an opportunity to keep him.
"But there's one, Derby County, that is now very tempting for him. We might be in a position to put some clarity on that in the next week or two."
McInnes was talking to BBC Scotland prior to a 1-0 win at Kilmarnock that lifted his side up to third in the Scottish Premiership.
After the game, which included three red cards for the home side and a decisive goal from Scott McKenna, he said: "It was a tough game, very competitive.
"It's good we overcame a lot of challenges and got the job done. There were very few opportunities, it was more about fighting your corner. We got the all-important goal and we go back to Aberdeen pleased with our work.
"Although we had a lot of youngsters in the team our experience played its part."