Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish welcomed captain Steven Gerrard's return from injury but warned it would take time for the skipper to regain full fitness.
Gerrard's 20-minute cameo was a rare bright spot for the Reds in a 1-1 home draw with bottom club Blackburn.
"It's fantastic that he's got back and he looks a lot stronger and a lot fitter now than he was in years gone by I think," said Dalglish.
"But he needs some time on the pitch now to get him back to full fitness."
Gerrard was making his first appearance since 22 October after undergoing treatment on an infected right ankle.
GERRARD'S GAMES THIS SEASON
- 21 Sep:
Brighton, Carling Cup (sub)
- 24 Sep:
- 1 Oct:
- 15 Oct:
- 22 Oct:
- 26 Dec:
The injury came only one month after he had returned from a six-month absence following groin surgery.
After coming on for Charlie Adam with the score at 1-1, Gerrard created a chance for Maxi Rodriguez with his first touch - a curling free-kick which the Argentine headed over the bar.
But even the inspirational skipper could not prevent Liverpool drawing at home for the sixth time in nine league games this season.
"The difficulty was who to take off because it wasn't as if we were playing poorly," added Dalglish.
"Usually if there is a bit of a struggle you can see you have two or three options but there wasn't anyone who deserved to come off.
"But we had to do something to try to win the game. I made two substitutions - Steven and Craig Bellamy to try to win it - and with a bit of good fortune we probably would have."