REDS assistant boss Jimmy Bell says his side are so close to challenging at the top half of the League Two table - but their reduced finances this season will hamper them.
The management are working on a much reduced weekly budget, leaving their options short for signing players.
"The thing for us is that we are so close too going to another level. We have grown in the last few seasons and we have learnt a lot about this league," said Bell.
"There are players available who can take us to the next level but we can’t afford them at the moment. And we are not talking a lot of money - maybe another three or four thousand pound on our budget.
"If we could do that we would be confident of a play-off challenge and not looking down the table.
"It’s like a lad called Mark Hughes who we had training with us. He was at Everton and we tried to buy him for about £20,000 a few years ago. He was sold to Northampton instead for £60,000. We want to sign him and we feel we could entice him here - but our budget probably won’t allow it and he has now joined Walsall.
"Kieran Charnock is another and Craig Lindfield. They want to play for us but we can’t offer them the deals they were on last season.
"Chester striker Ryan Lowe was another we wanted to sign but our tax situation was made public at the time he was choosing a club and he went for Bury. He is a 15 or 16 goal a season striker and we weren’t far off getting him.
"We have ear-marked a couple of defenders, a keeper and a centre forward now and I’m optimistic that we can get them.
"But we don’t just want to stay up every season as me and John (Coleman) are ambitious but Dave (O’Neill) has stopped us in our tracks a bit this season with the budget. Once the club gets even, he has promised us we will press on from there."