The big defender insists maintaining a fit squad for the majority of next season will be the key to taking that next step.
Having topped the table in August, we stayed in and around the top six and after a spell of six unbeaten games, a win at Newcastle United on December 29 would have taken us into 2003 in third place in the Premiership.
Unfortunately, things didn't go our and a disappointing second half of the season saw us eventually finish 10th.
"The first half of the season tells the true story really," reflected the big defender.
"That's when we had our strongest team and strongest squad available and after a few games we were top of the league.
"That's what we are capable of and that's what we have to strive for again. We need to keep the squad fit and go for it.
"You can sit there and analyse the season, look at some games we should have won, some perhaps we might have lost or drawn but you look back at some games and think 'how did we lose that'. I don't think we're that far away."
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Dean Richards believes we're not too far away from our target of returning to European football - and points at the first half of last season as proof.