The Seagulls have exactly the same amount of points as this stage last season but are placed higher in the league and Poyet insisted that the current crop deserve credit for their achievement so far.
He told seagulls.co.uk, “We are in a better position than last year and we are better prepared with a better team. As a club we are very lucky to be in the position that we are.
“If you think about the teams that should be ahead of us we would be happy being ninth but we are in the top six because we deserve to be there. We will do our best to finish in the top six and then we’ll see what happens.
“We need to be very proud of the players. I’m very happy with the group and the way that they understand what we want from them and how we want to play.
“People have said that we looked a little nervous last weekend and that means that the fans are always expecting a very standard from these players. That’s down to the way that the players have performed this season.
“The more we believe that the players are the most important part of this project the better because the rest is coming together.”
The Albion boss admitted that he is surprised to see Boro dropping down to ninth following a high-flying start to the season, but he will not be underestimating a side he has a lot of admiration for.
“I’m surprised because I like the way that they play and the way that they set up their team. It was looking to me like they would be contenders for promotion this season.
“From the outside it’s difficult to know what happened but I’m looking forward to talking to Tony Mowbray after the game because it’s always a learning point if something specific has happened.
“I now see it as Forest, us, Leicester and Bolton all competing for the final two places so the idea for us is to win three games as soon as possible then we’ll see where we are. We need to concentrate on winning games.
“We could win three in the next week, with all respect to the opposition, but if not we have to make it happen as soon as possible because the Championship season is 46 games and we need to compete until the very end.”