Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has warned his players that their performances over the remainder of the season could decide their future at the club.
Manchester United extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table to 15 points with victory over Norwich, making a win over Aston Villa on Sunday all the more important for City.
Although Mancini has refused to concede his side's title hopes, City's players have been given greater impetus to perform as the Italian suggested some fringe members of the squad could find themselves looking for a new club in the summer.
"Yes, maybe. Could be," Mancini said when asked if the remaining matches will be used to decide City's future departures. "I think it is important the games we have from now until the end, very important.
"We know which players we can buy for the future but we don't know which players can leave. Also because some players (might) want to leave because here they don't play and they want more chances to play. Maybe it can happen."
It seems City's title defence is now out of their hands and Mancini is hoping United's Champions League run continues with a win over Real Madrid this week to increase their fixture pile up.
"I think every game could be difficult when you play every three days and at the moment Manchester United have a lot of games, important games, Champions League, FA Cup," he said. "We hope they can lose points but we don't know when or where.
"I don't know. I think that Real Madrid, for me, are the best team with Barca at this moment and it will be hard for Manchester United. They played well in Madrid. In this game, I think everything is possible, all results."
Information from the Press Association was used in this report.