Paul Scholes has admitted his Manchester United future rests on his involvement in the club's treble push over the final six weeks of the season.
The 36-year-old, whose contract expires at the end of June, has yet to decide whether to extend his playing career beyond this campaign.
United manager Alex Ferguson has vowed to put pressure on Scholes to commit himself to the club for one more year. But Scholes insists he will not extend his playing days unless he feels capable of contributing at the highest level next season.
"People say you should play as long as you can, but there comes a time when you can't physically do it," Scholes said. "I want to make sure it (retirement) is done at the right time. I really don't know what I am going to do at the end of the season. It is very difficult to accept (not playing every game), but the time comes when you know that you can't."
Scholes has been linked with a move to the Middle East following his United retirement, but he has ruled out playing on elsewhere when he finally calls time on his Old Trafford career.
"Once it is done, it's done for me," he said. "There was talk about playing for Oldham, but I don't think it is a possibility. If I ever did go somewhere else I would want to feel I could do something.
"I don't want to go somewhere and be a bit useless."
Scholes points out that rivals Manchester City do not pose the biggest challenge to United's dominance ahead of their FA Cup semi-final tomorrow, but his aversion towards the neighbours becomes incrementally more evident.
"When they are fourth or fifth or wherever they are in the league, I don't think they can be classed as a main rival," he says. "Our main rivals are Arsenal and Chelsea. City are just a rival because of where they are (on a map)."
But losing to them? Well, that is like nothing else.
"It is painful," he says. "Horrible. You hate losing against anybody, but City is bad."
Any comparison between the current City and United sides teases out Scholes' sense of disparity between the teams.
"Without Wayne Rooney, we can bring in our top scorer, Dimitar Berbatov. What City can do without Carlos Tevez, I'm not so sure. Edin Dzeko hasn't adapted yet. It takes time.
"We have nicked the games in the last minutes. Michael Owen's done it, Wayne did it and I've done it. That's the difference that maybe there is between the two teams. We have a belief that we can beat anybody, but I'm not sure City have." (© Independent News Service).