John Carew believes Aston Villa will be better equipped to mount a top-four challenge in 2009/10.
Martin O'Neill's men appeared to be on course to clinch a UEFA Champions League place last season, until a dramatic slump heading down the final stretch saw them finish sixth.
That was good enough to clinch a Europa League place, but Villa were disappointed to have missed out on a place in continental
football's most prestigious event.
Their cause for next term has been hindered by the sale of Gareth Barry to Manchester City, but Norwegian striker Carew still feels that Villa will be among the front-runners next season.
"It is a very important season for Aston Villa next season and I think we will be better equipped," he said.
"Overall I think we have improved this season and the players here are getting better and better.
"What will happen in terms of the squad? I don't know, but with the team we have I think we will get better each year.
"We are learning each season and, if we find ourselves in the same position we did this year, fighting for the top four, I think we will handle it even better."
Carew believes O'Neill will be busy in the transfer market this summer and insists a bigger squad will allow Villa to launch a sustained assault on the top of the table.
He said: "Is the squad big enough? For the amount of games we have played this season I think it is okay.
"If you are going for four competitions, the more good players we have the better - but it's not up to me."
Carew bagged 15 goals last season, making him Villa's top scorer, but saw the middle third of his campaign wrecked by a niggling back problem.
He claims to be over that injury and is now looking forward to leading the line again next term.
He added: "I feel my peak form was starting to come. Of course, I wish the season was a month or two longer.
"But I will train over the summer and I will be ready for next season. Let's hope we can then get off to a flying start."