Steve Bruce eulogised over the honesty of the Championship before sounding a warning to his players after receiving a rude awakening from Colchester.

Birmingham ran out deserved 2-1 winners but it was an uncomfortable afternoon compounded by Cameron Jerome's red card.

Expectations are high at St Andrew's that Birmingham will romp away with the title and, whilst Bruce doesn't want to quell the ambition, he delivered a caveat to his team ahead of the trip to Sunderland.

"It's a wake-up call and to be fair to Colchester they played well. Take nothing away from them but I didn't think they were a threat, apart from our own defensive lapses and falling asleep occasionally," admitted Bruce.

"We were well on top in the first half and we had two or three opportunities. I think we were shocked by the directness of seeing the ball played from back to front. It doesn't really happen like that in the Premiership very often.

"When we went down to ten men it was a bit of a struggle. Fair play to the lads as they stuck at it.

"There were a lot of tired bodies in the end. A fantastic crowd and expectation and we have got to live with that and deal with it.

"At least our team showed a bit of resilience when things weren't going so well for it and us is the result that counts."

Bruce will have to do without the services of Jerome (right) after the strapping striker was sent off five minutes into his Birmingham debut.

Referee Keith Stroud deemed Jerome to have lashed out at Karl Duguid and the television replays are inconclusive.

Bruce is considering an appeal but the likelihood is that Blues £3m striker will miss the fixtures with Sunderland, Stoke and Crystal Palace.

"I have just seen it on the television and it is very, very harsh," continued Bruce. "To be fair to big Wayne Brown, he ran up to the referee and showed a bit of honesty and said to the referee 'this is not a sending off'.

"When I look at the television, yes, he has raised his arm, but the guy has fouled him and he has tried to push him away rather than elbow.

"It is disappointing as he is only a kid and on his home debut in front of 25,000 people."

Bruce was lavish in his praise of strikers DJ Campbell and Nicklas Bendtner. The two young bucks looked Birmingham's biggest threat and have secured their involvement in Wednesday night's trip to the Stadium of Light.

"We have a decent relationship with Arsenal and they obviously see this as a decent learning place for their kids," said Bruce, referring to the loan acquisitions of Bendtner, Sebastian Larsson and Fabrice Muamba. When someone comes to training you know when they are a player. Yesterday he [Bendtner] did something where he faced the guy up - a bit similar to his goal - and smashed it in the net.

"We knew we had a player on our hands. He is only 18 and he needs to keep his feet on the ground and do what he did today.

"We have got him until Christmas initially, which is Arsenal's request. I can't speak for Arsenal, but they were thinking 'is he going to be our fourth striker'?

"If he is thought of that highly it shows you how good he is."