The Black Cats paid a British record fee for a goalkeeper when then manager Roy Keane tempted the 27-year-old south from Hearts during the summer of 2007.
Gordon convinced Bruce of his quality at the back end of last season after recovering from the arm fracture he suffered at Tottenham in November, and young Belgian Simon Mignolet was recruited as cover during the close-season with Marton Fulop heading for the exit door.
However, the 22-year-old found himself thrown in at the deep end when Gordon sustained a second break in pre-season training and Bruce decided not to bring in a stop-gap replacement.
The former Sint-Truiden player's response has exceeded all expectations and while Gordon is now fit and back in contention, he has had to be content with a seat on the bench for the past three games.
Bruce said: "I have got a big problem, which we enjoy. The young keeper has been unflappable. He has done fantastically.
"I have also got a goalkeeper who was exceptional for me at the back end of last season.
"However, I have got to be true to the squad, otherwise you lose them.
"Craig understands that the kid is playing out of his skin and he will have to be patient, just like [John] Mensah and [Cristian] Riveros and the rest of them who can't break into the team at the moment.
"That shows you the strength in depth we have managed to attract over the last 12, 15 months, and it bodes well.
"They just have to be patient."
Mignolet will head into Sunday's derby trip to Newcastle with three successive clean sheets under his belt having played his part in 0-0 Barclays Premier League draws against Manchester United and Blackburn and Saturday's 1-0 win over Aston Villa.
Indeed, he has conceded just nine goals in 11 games in all competitions to date this season behind a defence in which the once much-maligned Titus Bramble has proved a rock.
That has provided the foundation for the club to climb into seventh place in the table after nine games, although this weekend's opponents are only a point and two places behind them after their 2-1 win at West Ham on Saturday evening.
The Tyne-Wear derby clash is always eagerly anticipated and the latest instalment even more so after a gap last year when the Magpies were playing their football in the Championship.
The last encounter on Tyneside ended 1-1 in February last year when Shola Ameobi's controversial penalty cancelled out Djibril Cisse's strike and denied the Black Cats a double following their 2-1 win at the Stadium of Light during the previous October.
As he begins his preparations for the game, Geordie Bruce, who admits he has never even been to the derby before, will hope for good news on Egyptian winger Ahmed Elmohamady, who limped off with a foot injury at the weekend.
He said: "Elmohamady has got a nasty one with the top of his foot. He kicked the bottom of somebody's boot.
"It's a sore one, but I think he will be okay."