Bruce managed Wigan between November 2007 and June 2009 but having signed Lee Cattermole from his former club in the summer and maintained his interest in Latics left-back Maynor Figueroa, the Sunderland manager has played down speculation he will target Kirkland.
"Talk of me bidding £5 million for Chris Kirkland is garbage but he is a very good goalkeeper and I'm a big, big admirer of him," Bruce told the Sunderland Echo.
"Some of the players I've been linked with have been ridiculous but you come to expect that in January and there's nothing we can do about that. What I will say is that we're working on one or two things and hopefully we can see them progress."
Kirkland has suffered extensively from injury problems throughout his career but has started 113 league games since joining the Latics from Liverpool, initially on loan, in October 2006. He has missed only one Premier League game this season.