James Hanson believes City need more strength in depth to make a concerted challenge next season.
Phil Parkinson will this week step up his discussions with the large number of out-of-contract players at Valley Parade.
Fans were shocked to hear on Friday that skipper Gary Jones would not be offered a new deal.
Garry Thompson and Matthew Bates had already been informed they will not be kept on and Andy Gray agreed to cancel his deal early.
With the future of so many others currently up in the air, City will have a very different look for their second campaign in League One.
Hanson, one of the small group still currently under contract, feels that a reshuffle is required.
He said: “We need to move forward next year. Really we should have been higher this season.
“We’re just as good as anyone in this league. When we had our strongest team out, we were more than capable of being up there – and we showed that at the start.
“But we lost one or two players through injuries and it disrupted the season. It was frustrating to see us slide down a bit.
“We’ve not picked up the results for one reason or another when we’ve had injuries.
“It’s been hard and I think the gaffer does need to strengthen overall, not just the first 11. It’s a team game and there are going to be players missing.”
Hanson has recently been on a course of antibiotics in the latest bid to cure the inflammation that has plagued his groin and lower back. He was limited to only one start in the last nine games.
But the striker is already anticipating returning stronger in pre-season and he is confident City will be better equipped by then to prepare for a proper shot at the top six.
“As a team, we’ve moved a long way forward in the past couple of years,” said Hanson.
“I don’t know what ideas the gaffer has got but there are definitely going to be a few changes. It will be weird because we had a really good spirit and close bond in the squad.
“But you’ve got to understand it from the gaffer’s point of view as well. If we’d had our strongest starting line-up this year, we’d have been competing in the play-offs.
“There is definitely stuff we need to improve on. What we’ve learned from this year should stand us in good stead.
“You’ve got to work harder to win games – but we’ve beaten some good teams like Brentford, so we are well capable. Next year might be slightly easier because of the clubs that you’re losing from the division.
“This is new for us. Probably half the squad were playing in League One for the first time, so it’s a good platform for next year. I’m looking forward to it.”