Hughes signed a lucrative new contract last week and is in confident mood with three consecutive home games to come and the prospect of making up ground on the teams above.
Hughes, whose side face Newcastle and West Ham after Villa's visit, said: "It becomes more and more difficult every year because of the resources but it is realistic this year and we will certainly go out and have a real go at it.
"The make-up of the results this year seems to be a little bit different with most of the top teams beating most of the bottom teams, so that may lead to more teams being able to challenge the top four.
"I thought we played well on Sunday despite only getting a draw at Fulham and now we go into three home games where we can expect to get results. If we can do that we will be right up there."