Towards the beginning of the season, Nigel Pearson sent a message to those Bristol City players who are reaching the end of their contracts.
While the City manager hinted he is powerless to prevent some players from running down their deals, the likes of Han-Noah Massengo falling into that category, he tasked others to prove they deserve to extend their stay.
Pearson said in a press conference: "I can't do much about the ones that seem to be doing that (running them down). Now is too early. I think it's important that players play for contracts as well.
"You know what the scenario has been in the last two summers, I don't want to get ahead of the situation. At some point, I'm sure individual representatives will have a chat with Richard (Gould) at some point and it will be driven by also conversations internally about where we see the squad developing.
"There's an awful lot of football to be played before some decisions are made on players. I have no problem with saying at the moment that there are a number of players that will continue to have to play for a new contract, but I think that is quite healthy really."
There's a whole raft of notable names including Tomas Kalas, Dan Bentley and Jay Dasilva whose contracts are expiring and decisions will need to be made both from a footballing decision and a financial one also. Here we look at how those senior players are performing after 17 games of the new season.
We may as well begin at the top and it's been a difficult month for Bentley, to say the least. A 3-0 drubbing at Birmingham in which City were undone by three set pieces encouraged Pearson to show his ruthless side by bringing in Max O'Leary.
He's started the last four matches and there's no reason to suggest he won't continue to leave Bentley on the bench for the foreseeable. Bentley may feel hard done but it's clear the manager has more trust in his other stopper to command his area more from crosses.
"At least he's (O'Leary) visible" was the quote from Pearson following the clean sheet against West Brom after City had defended 13 corners. After conceding that second goal against Millwall, he also said: "Maybe he should punch it but I’d rather that than the goals conceded vs Birmingham. I’d rather there be a positive mistake."
Whether those comments were also a message towards Bentley, only Pearson knows but it's becoming increasing clear his future at City is looking bleak. His contract expires in the summer as one of the high-earning players, he'd undoubtedly need to reduce his salary given the current financial climate.
Bentley arrived at the club in 2019 when City players were being offered generous salaries so that remains the initial problem. However, from a footballing perspective, it does appear as though the club are readying a replacement by the name of Stefan Bajic.
The youngster continues to impress the manager and coaching staff following his arrival on a free transfer with Pearson revealing he has fast-tracked himself into contention for the first-team. With all of those factors combined, it does feel like the beginning of the end for Bentley.
Another player whose decision to extend his contract could also ultimately weigh heavily on financial reasons. Likewise to Bentley, he will have to take a sizeable pay cut following his club-record £8million move in 2019.
The questions for Kalas now will concern his long-term fitness and there'll be an understandable hesitation to agree on new terms considering his recent record. There's no doubting his ability but the defender has been sorely missed having spent seven months sidelined with groin and knee problems.
He made his return to action as a substitute against Millwall 10 days ago but was pulled out of the game against Reading as precaution over a calf injury. Pearson is a big fan of Kalas both with his quality on the field and his infectious personality off of it.
To lose the Czech for nothing in the summer would be far from ideal considering the outlay City paid Chelsea for him. He's also just to turn 30 so he still has plenty of years ahead of him at this level.
But the club will likely bide their time over his future to see how much football he gets under his belt this season and whether they can afford to extend his stay.
Dasilva's form over the second half of last season could have encouraged the club to look towards extending his contract, especially considering he only turned 24 this year.
He started this campaign well enough but seems to have dropped in form since the international break, although he's not the only one in the City squad. Whether criticism of his performances is unfair or justified, Dasilva remains an integral figure to City this season.
Not only because he has the technical ability to play consistently at this level but also because Pearson isn't exactly blessed with a deluge of wing-back options. Cam Pring continues to lurk in the shadows but has yet to make a league start and for some reason, doesn't seem to be fancied or completely trusted from the off.
The question will be whether Dasilva can match the performances that his wage commands and as a higher earner, both parties will need to come to an understanding about where his future lies beyond the season. Just one assist this season shows there's room for improvement going forward especially considering how high up the field he is being asked to play.
Pring's future could also play a factor because he may feel he'll need to look for a new challenge if he fails to get regular minutes under Pearson. Either way, there's going to be difficult decisions and sacrifices that will need to be made.
One thing that has been abundantly clear with Wells is that no matter if his contract was expiring in six years or tomorrow, he will continue to give his all until the end. Having found himself out of the side for long periods last season, it seemed likely that he would have departed.
If it wasn't for being one of the top earners - if not the highest earner, that could have been the case but City have gained from his professionalism and ability as he sits as joint top scorer alongside Tommy Conway on seven goals.
Wells knows the drill, he's been open and honest during media interviews about his immediate future in the past. He has proven that despite turning 32, he still has plenty to offer at this level and if he continues his form, City may well look to offer a small extension if a deal suits both parties.
He'll undoubtedly have to significantly reduce his salary to remain at the club (there's a common theme here) but it could also depend on the player's desires. Wells knows he's approaching the twilight of a memorable career and may want to take the opportunity to experience something new by the beginning of next season.
The striker deservedly extended his stay for one more year towards the end of last season after making 43 league starts and scoring 12 goals. Pearson has opted to attack with more pace this campaign and the form of Wells and Tommy Conway has limited him to a handful of appearances.
Martin has scored once, which is a reflection of playing a bit-part role, and at the age of 33, it would seem unlikely at this stage for City to further extend his deal. Conway's emergence is almost like a new signing and Sam Bell is also progressing in the youth side but if they do allow Martin to leave, they will need to replace his physicality with someone who boasts similar attributes.
Although Martin does have an appearance-based clause in his current contract although it is unknown just how many games he will need to play to have that triggered.
Absolutely no secret that unless something dramatic happens, Massengo will leave the club in the summer. He's had a deal on the table for over 12 months but looks no closer to putting pen-to-paper.
That's been evident in Pearson's team selections in recent weeks with the Frenchman playing the last three matches with the U21s. The manager also revealed in a recent press conference that players who have committed their futures such as Dylan Kadji, are now ahead of him in the pecking order.
The situation is not doing anyone any favours and you only have to cast your mind back to May when he looked to be in tears in the final home game of the season when he was waving goodbye. His last appearance came at the defeat at Birmingham which he endured a difficult afternoon.
There's no sign of a U-turn in his City career and it does seem unlikely he'll have many more games in City colours before inevitably leaving for just a nominal compensation fee.
Zak Vyner and Antoine Semenyo
Both players are an anomaly in a way because the club do have options to extend their contracts for one more year and that effectively means their deals will expire in 2024 when activated.
That will certainly be the case with Semenyo which will avoid the worst-case scenario of losing him for nothing in the summer. But it does mean City will need to sell him at the end of the season which will likely be their final opportunity to rake in transfer income.
With Vyner, he's been one of the success stories of the summer having forced his way back into the reckoning after a difficult few months out of the picture last season. If he maintains his form, interest in his signature will only increase and that will encourage City to extend that contract to cover their own backs.
But he's also proving he has worth on the pitch but knows he will need to maintain his performances with Kalas and Kal Naismith returning to the side with injury.
Like the duo above him, City also have the option to extend his contract for one more year and that is likely to be the case after being handed his opportunity in the goal.
It's early days in regards to whether he passes the audition to hold onto the shirt for the foreseeable future but he's proven capable in his four appearances so far. Extending his deal could also be seen as financial security to generate a transfer fee should City decide to part ways.
It would depend on one or two external factors that could determine his future including the uncertainty over Bentley and Bajic's development. City won't want to lose both Bentley and O'Leary in one window but O'Leary is now in a position at the age of 26 where he needs to be playing regular, first-team football.
He ended speculation over his future this summer by signing a one year extension with the option for an extra year. A difficult start to the season that saw him deal with injury and personal problems meant he was on the periphery of the first-team until Kal Naismith's injury gave him an opportunity to stake his claim.
Klose has proven he can step into the picture when required and he will likely be in and out of the first-team this season depending on form and fitness of his team-mates. The 34-year-old has plenty of experience and his popularity among the squad is highly valued, especially among the younger players.
That could convince City to extend his stay beyond this season if he's interested in helping develop the club's young crop of talent but Klose may also think about returning to his native Switzerland - a decision he considered this summer.
Other players whose contracts expire in 2023
Owura Edwards (club hold one-year option)
Taylor Moore (club hold one-year option)
James Morton (club hold one-year option)