The midfielder has undergone weeks of painstaking rehabilitation and now the Sunderland captain is set to return against Liverpool on Sunday.
Cattermole comes back in to a near-full-strength Sunderland squad with Bolo Zenden, Nedum Onuoha and Danny Welbeck also back in contention, and Fraizer Campbell on the fringe of a return. David Meyler and Michael Turner meanwhile hope to be back in training in the next week.
Stricken: Lee Cattermole has suffered two serious back injuries in the last two years
But it is the re-emergence of Cattermole which is the biggest boost for Bruce. And after backing his skipper earlier in the season, following his two dismissals, Bruce is delighted to see Sunderland supporters have recognised the former Middlesbrough and Wigan man's contribution to his side.
Bruce said he had no doubts about standing by Cattermole after he was sent off against Birmingham on the opening day of the season and then at Wigan less than a month later.
The second red brought calls for Bruce to strip his ?6million 2009 signing of the captain's armband, but Bruce bided his time and stuck by his skipper.
Bruce said: 'The hardest job of the job is not tactics but man managing the players I have got. Catts was distraught at what happened to him, upset like no one else would be. And I didn't want to kick him in the teeth at that point.
Discipline issues: The captain was sent off twice in the opening month of the campaign
'For me it was easy to stand by him, others out there might have felt differently but I decided he needed support not a kick in the teeth.
'Anyone who gets to know him will tell you he is a really decent lad. Sometimes that winning takes over and he gets a red flash. I hope he curbs that and stays in the team. He has certainly matured as a person.
'The unfortunate thing is that he has had two bad injuries here, knee and a back and it has disrupted his Sunderland career.
'But he is a fierce, determined character who wants to win. He has an infectious enthusiasm about him that catches on in training. It is no coincidence that we are better with him in the team. He is a born winner with a natural drive. His enthusiasm can get the better of him at times but you want that.'
While Cattermole is ready to be considered for a start against Liverpool, and presents Bruce with some interesting choices in midfield with Jordan Henderson, Sulley Muntari, Kieran Richardson and Stephane Sessgenon all available, keeper Craig Gordon will again be on the bench.
The Scotland No 1 has been called up for his country's friendly against Brazil but Bruce, who has turned to Belgian youngster Simon Mignolet for the last two matches, is concerned Gordon may need surgery which would rule him out until Christmas.
Point to prove: Craig Gordon is fighting for his Sunderland No 1 spot
Bruce said: 'He has tendinitis in his knee and he has a designed programme to do and he can play in emergency for us.
'He has been called up by Scotland but he is not 100 per cent fit. He is doing his programme and over the next three weeks we will see if the knee gets better or whether he goes in get operated on. It is a pivotal time because the operation is one of those where he could be out for a month, but it could be six months.
'Craig wouldn't want to play for Scotland anyway and I will have a conversation with Craig Levein.'
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Explore more:People: Michael Turner, Steve Bruce, Danny Welbeck, Lee Cattermole, Craig Levein, Craig Gordon Places: Birmingham, Liverpool, Scotland, Brazil