Carroll rejoined Newcastle in the summer but had to wait to play while he worked his way back to fitness.
The striker entered the fray in the 82nd minute as Newcastle drew 0-0 with Brighton at St James' Park.
Bruce told Sky Sports: "We're just delighted to see him back on the pitch. He's worked extremely hard. He lifts the crowd. He's a handful, if he stays fit he'll be ok.
"We're going to have to manage him in the right way. The big thing is his ankles. Let's hope now that he's injury free.
"We noticed in training he's got that bit of presence, the respect because of what he's achieved. If you've got a big Andy Carroll in there, you've got to play to his strengths."