Injuries have severely limited the Black Cats' options, and Darren Bent's departure to Aston Villa last week saw the club lose their top scorer. But Bruce`s men remain sixth in the Barclays Premier League table and despite a disappointing 2-0 home defeat by Blackpool and a late derby escape against Newcastle, they remain on course for European qualification.
Bruce said: "I have to take my hat off to the squad we have. For the last six, eight weeks now over the winter period, and especially over Christmas, we have been down to the bare bones.
"The great thing about the squad and the way it has been has been the resilience of them. We have had six or seven missing now for the past two months - [Michael] Turner, [John] Mensah, [Lee] Cattermole, [David] Meyler, [Danny] Welbeck, Fraizer Campbell. You name them - we have had injury after injury and the one thing they have done is roll up their sleeves and make sure that we keep hanging on in there.
"That's what we have done and that's what we have got to try to do for the next two or three months to make sure we try to cement our place in the top 10."