England international Bent is fit after being sidelined since October with a hamstring injury and is desperate to add to his six Premier League goals for the season.
But Asamoah Gyan has stepped up to the plate in Bent's absence with four in his last three games and Bruce said: 'The decision I've got with Darren just shows where we are now. He is not guaranteed to get straight back in because it would be very difficult to leave someone out after the way we played at Chelsea (winning 3-0 last Sunday).
Raring to go: Striker Bent has missed Sunderland's last three games
'It is a difficult decision, one of those horrible ones, but also a nice one.'
The Black Cats can leapfrog Tottenham into sixth place in the table with a home win and Bruce added: 'When I came here, the remit was to establish ourselves in the Premier League and forget all this yo-yo stuff.
'This is our fourth year in this division and we've come to terms with it. Now my aim is the top 10. Can we achieve that or even compete in Europe? It's a possibility.
'We've got some good young players and the important thing is holding on to them and signing a couple as well.
'I've never been involved with a team that has played as well as we have against the top teams; Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea, Aston Villa - not one of them have we fluked a result against.'
Man of the moment: Gyan has made sure Bent has not been missed too much
Newcastle fans attack Sunderland striker Darren Bent's car Sunderland v Everton: Our guide to Monday's Premier League clash at Stadium of LightWatch all the Premier League goals every week on our brilliant Yahoo video playerSUNDERLAND FC