Brendan Rodgers admits Lucas Leiva left him with no choice but to give him a longer run out than planned on his return to the Liverpool first team against Southampton on Saturday.
The Brazil midfielder was handed a starting berth in the 1-0 victory - his first senior appearance since sustaining a thigh injury on August 26.
Lucas showed few signs of rustiness as he turned in a typically composed display, leaving his manager delighted.
Rodgers told his post-match press conference: "I thought he was excellent. He's come so far in training, I felt I needed to get him into the games.
"He's another piece to what we're trying to do here and you seen the difference he makes when he's in the team.
"He offers the team great stability and he can deal with the ball, which is important.
"My plan was to give him 60-65 minutes, but he was comfortable and it was probably only in the last 10 minutes that he started to tire, which is when I took him off.
"It was a very, very good performance for him and it's great to see him back playing."
Lucas's display was one of several positives for Liverpool, who dominated throughout against Southampton.
Daniel Agger's first-half header proved to be the difference between the two sides, though Rodgers felt the Reds could have put the result beyond doubt much sooner had they been on the receiving end of better fortune in the final third.
"The game should have been put to bed well before it was," reflected the boss.
"I thought we were outstanding the first half. The tempo, we shared the ball, everyone was passing and moving, the creativity [was good] in the team throughout the game and it was just getting that little bit of luck with the final ball.
"No matter how much you dominate the game, if it's still only 1-0 going into the final 10 minutes it can always offer you a bit of challenge where you have to defend.
"There's no question we should have been out of sight, but the most important thing is it was a terrific performance and another win at Anfield. We continue with another three points and moving up the league."
The only negative for Rodgers and his men was a booking for Luis Suarez, which means he will serve a one-match suspension at West Ham United next Sunday having collected five yellow cards.
Rodgers said: "That's the way it goes. That was always going to be the risk, but it's an opportunity for someone else to come in."