Thibaut Courtois has written off Chelsea’s top four hopes and says it is now an “unrealistic” target.
Chelsea have improved under new interim boss Guus Hiddink and remain unbeaten in eight games under the Dutch coach, but they are still 16 points adrift of the top four.
The damage was done under previous boss Jose Mourinho as the defending champions lost nine of their first 16 league games, prompting the club to replace Mourinho with Hiddink.
And Hiddink, 69, has restored confidence to the squad, according to keeper Courtois.
“Now things are changing, we are playing well, and we want to end the season well,” he said in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports.
“Realistically, we want to try and win the FA Cup, but the draw we got against City will be almost like a final.
“The Champions League is a hard one, but in the Premier League we have to climb the table, and sixth or seventh is quite close.
“Top four is very difficult, as it is already like 14 or 15 points.
“There are four teams competing for the title, so we know they won’t drop a lot of points. We want to get as high as possible, but top four is not realistic anymore.”
The champions have picked up 14 points since the arrival of Hiddink in December and Courtois believes that is down to key players finding their form.
“A lot of players have improved their game. Some of the team were struggling to find their form from last year, which has been the main problem all season,” added Courtois.
“The Premier League is very difficult and if you are not at your top level then you won’t win games. A few players have reached that level again, and we have started winning games.
“Hiddink has adjusted some small details, he has not changed a lot. On the training pitch he has restored a bit of confidence. He has had some talks with the players, and that has helped.
“That bit of confidence can change things. When Diego [Costa] scored that first goal, he went on to get a few more. Sometimes it is that one moment that can change everything.
“We train really hard, with a great intensity. If we can transform that onto the pitch we will do really well.”
Courtois also said club captain John Terry, who announced last week he has not been offered a new contract, will be missed by his team-mates next season.
“We have to respect the decision from the board and from John Terry. The other players are not involved,” he said.
“Terry has been here 21 years, he is a legend, and will be missed, but it is a decision from him and board.”