A sluggish start to the season was followed by a upturn in fortunes before a poor December saw us fall into the Premiership's bottom three. Results have improved greatly since the turn of the year and five league wins out of six have pushed the team up to 11th place on 33 points - five adfift of Liverpool in fourth place.
Dean insists that the first priority is to push on into the top ten and see where the team can progress from that position.
"We've started the year well, things look more promising and we can push on now," reasoned the central defender. "We want to get in the top half as soon as possible and then see where we can go from there."
Last season saw a strong start fade away in the second half of the season and Dean hopes the reverse occurs this time around.
"Hopefully we will finish strongly this season, it is looking good at the moment and it looks like we will always score goals. We've got to get the balance right now and maybe defend better as a team.
"Against Charlton we really worked hard all over the park and we are not the biggest team at the moment. We haven't had Fredi and when Gus doesn't play we don't have so much height and might look vulnerable from set pieces.
"We went there very determined and I think that showed from the first minute. We felt we deserved to win against Charlton at home and it was still fresh in our minds."
Meanwhile, Dean added that he greatly appreciated the reception given to him by the fans before the game at the Valley after he received some flak from sections of the crowd in the second half against Portsmouth.
"It was very much appreciated because I'd be lying if I said it didn't upset me on Saturday. I am always fully committed and always give 100 per cent whenever I've played for any team.
"I made a mistake against Portsmouth and I'm big enough to accept that. When you are in a bit of a sticky patch you have got to keep going and fight your way out of it.
"The fans singing my name before the game did me the world of good. I feel I've got a good rapport with the supporters and I want that to continue."
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Dean Richards says the team are determined to reach the top half of the table as soon as possible.