1:09PM BST 12 Jul 2011
Wickham is the most expensive of nine new signings at the Stadium of Light, but Bruce - who beat off competition from Liverpool after flying the player and his parents out to Portugal to stay in his villa - will not throw the youngster straight into the first team as he looks to nurture him into a Premier League striker.
Wickham will fly out to Germany with the rest of the Sunderland squad on Friday, but is yet to meet his new teammates and Bruce is already wary of the expectations levels surrounding him.
The 18-year-old has been given an extra two weeks off by his new manager after playing for the England Under-21s in the European Championships in Denmark last month, and Bruce has indicated he will be ensuring he keeps a low profile on Wearside.
Part of that is likely to be a ban on media interviews, and Wickham is likely to find himself on the bench at best when the new season gets underway, presuming Bruce can, as planned, add another striker to his squad.
'Connor is one of the best young talents in the country, but we have to remember he is only 18,' said Bruce. 'It is a colossal fee we have paid for him, but he's a striker who has got the world at his feet.