Steve Bruce says he will not rush new Sunderland striker Connor Wickham on to the Premier League stage - but feels he is a "special talent".[LNB] The 18-year-old joined the Black Cats from Ipswich Town for an initial fee of £8.1million last month which could rise to over £12m with add-ons included.[LNB]Wickham will challenge Asamoah Gyan and Ji Dong-Won for a starting place, while former Manchester United man Fraizer Campbell remains sidelined with another knee problem.[LNB]"Connor is one of the best young talents in the country, but we have to remember he's only 18," Bruce said of the striker, who is expected to join his new team-mates for the first time when Sunderland fly out to Germany on Friday.[LNB]"It is a colossal fee we've paid for him but he's a striker who has got the world at his feet and now we must nurture him and work with him to bring out the best in his skills. [LNB]"He's a very special talent. We have to be careful with the lad; he's young and I'm sure he'll serve the club well over the years to come."[LNB]Bruce is confident Wickham will prove an astute signing if he fulfils his rich potential.[LNB]He told the Sunderland Echo: "He's got bags and bags of potential.[LNB]"When you are buying potential, of course there's always a risk. But I'm convinced that he's going to be a top player.[LNB]"He provides something different. He's 6'3" at 18 - you have to remember he's 18. But I'm convinced he will be a fantastic signing for Sunderland.[LNB]"I flew Connor and his dad out to Portugal a couple of weeks ago and laid down what we planned for him.[LNB]"He thought this was the best stage of his development to come here, feature and play. That was the big thing for him, the chance to play frequently.[LNB]"He's got a good chance here with us."