Bruce told Setanta Sports 1: "I've only had the pleasure of working with him [Kirkland] for four or five months and I think everybody in the game knows he just needs to keep himself fit.
"He's proved to me he's an outstanding goalkeeper.
"If we can keep him fit, keep him on the pitch then I don't think there's anybody better.
"He's only a young boy so it's important we look after him. Nigel Spink, who has come with me from Birmingham to work with him, has done very, very well with him."