A 2-1 loss at Birmingham last weekend was followed by a penalty shoot-out defeat by Aston Villa in the Carling Cup on Tuesday and heading into Saturday's visit of West Ham in the Barclays Premier League, the Black Cats boss has a number of injury concerns.
Bruce admitted he read the riot act to his side after they followed a well-deserved home win over Liverpool with a poor performance at St Andrew's last weekend but insists he has seen enough from his side recently to believe they are still on track.
"I thought we played really well against Villa on Tuesday and we were disappointed to go out," he said.
"Of the last four games we've played, against Villa, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester United (a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford) we have gone head to head with three of them, and played extremely well.
"The disappointing one for me was Birmingham but we're playing well at home and if we can get to 19 points with 10 games on the board that's a great start to the season and puts you on course to be in the top 10 quite comfortably. So we have to be pleased with that. It's a big, big game for us against West Ham."