MICHAEL O'Neill does not believe he is too big for the Scotland job but he will not come cheap, according to his right-hand man Austin MacPhee.

The Northern Ireland manager remains Hampden chiefs' first choice to replace Gordon Strachan.

But there has been little movement since SFA chief executive Stewart Regan approached his counterparts in Belfast to seek permission to open talks with the 48-year-old last month.

The former Brechin City and Shamrock Rovers manager has two years left on his current £500,000-a-year contract and confirmed last week discussions had begun with the Irish Football Association over a new four-year extension.

It is thought the SFA would be willing to double his current salary in order to lure him across the Irish Sea, and MacPhee has hinted they may have to dig deep to secure his signature.

However, the Hearts assistant manager - who doubles up as Northern Ireland's number two - shot down suggestions O'Neill might view the Scotland post as being beneath him given his incredible feats since moving into international management six years ago.

MacPhee said: "I don't think anybody would ever be above the Scotland job. (Sir) Alex Ferguson would never say he was above the Scotland job.

"But, naturally, Michael is now in a financial bracket which links you in some jobs and not others.

"I mean, Brechin are not going to come calling now and that's because of the financial bracket he is following the success he has had.

"There are pros and cons in lots of different jobs.

"If Alex Ferguson says he is not above the Scotland job, and I haven't asked Michael specifically, then I certainly wouldn't say Michael was."

However, MacPhee admits that speculation over O'Neill - who qualified Northern Ireland for their first major tournament in 30 years when he led them to Euro 2016 - and his future is unlikely to cease even if he does decide to sign on again with the IFA.

"Michael is under contract with the IFA and so am I, so it's not something I want to talk about too much right now," he said.

"I just think he's a fantastic manager. Obviously there will be speculation about him all the time.

"Right now he's the national team manager who has had the biggest increase in world rankings, globally, so that puts you on every board's radar because he has taken Northern Ireland from 133rd to 20th - an increase of 113 places.

"No other manager has done that.

Foundation of Hearts chairman Stuart Wallace,. meanwhile, insists the fans group remain on course to become the majority shareholders at Hearts after revealing that they have now handed over £6.52 million to the club.

Wallace gave FoH members an update at Wednesday’s AGM and also confirmed that £2.47 million of that total is part of their £3 million commitment to the new £15 million main stand.

Once their contribution to the stadium redevelopment is complete, the 8,000-strong group will then begin to repay current owner Ann Budge her £2.4 million loan.