Zinedine Zidane says Real Madrid will count on Gareth Bale during the final months of the season after the Welshman started in the 4-1 win at Osasuna.
The former Tottenham attacker played for 71 minutes and was involved in Isco's leveller in his first LaLiga appearance since January 4.
Further goals from Sergio Ramos, Lucas Vazquez and Luka Jovic extended Real's lead at the top of the table over Barcelona.
Bale has largely had a bit-part role this season with injuries affecting him and constant talk of a strained relationship with his head coach.
"He is an important player," Zidane told a press conference reported by Marca.
"He has done 65 good minutes offensively and defensively, he has tried and he is an important player.
"The problem is that they want us to have a problem with Gareth, but we do not have one.
"There are many players, it is not easy to manage all that, but in the end he is a very important player and little by little he will continue playing like the others."
Even though Bale has been strongly linked with a move away from the Bernabeu in recent transfer windows, his agent Jonathan Barnett has hinted the 30-year-old will see out the rest of his contract with Real.
Zidane has used the Welshman sparingly at times, leaving him out of the recent derby with Atletico Madrid due to tactical reasons.
He also missed Thursday's 4-3 home defeat to Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey, but with a number of key games coming up, including the Champions League last-16 tie with Manchester City, the former Southampton player will be required.
Madrid boss Zidane added: "He has been well, he has given everything in attack and defence.
"He was a little short physically, hence the change. He will give us a lot from here until the end of the season. We will count on him."
Isco impressed in Pamplona while substitute Jovic scored his second goal for Madrid since his summer move.
"You can tell him many things, but if he doesn't score a goal, he's not happy," Zidane said of ex-Eintracht Frankfurt forward Jovic. "He has to improve, but I'm glad for his goal."
Osasuna supporters may have been dreaming of a shock win when they took an early lead, but Madrid fought back to level through Isco before Ramos headed home in the 38th minute.
It remained 2-1 for a lengthy period of time until substitute Vazquez added a third with six minutes left and another sub Jovic fired home in stoppage time.
Bale's latest transfer odds (via Sky Bet)
To join this summer:
- Tottenham - 4/1
- PSG - 7/1
- Manchester United - 9/1
- Chelsea - 16/1
- LA Galaxy - 16/1
- Inter Miami - 25/1
Odds correct as of 1000 GMT on 10/02/20
Lenglet scores winner as Barcelona come from behind at Betis
Barcelona ended a tough week on a high with Clement Lenglet scoring the winner before being sent off as Quique Setien overcame former club Real Betis in a thrilling 3-2 comeback win.
As if a public spat between star turn Lionel Messi and sporting director Eric Abidal was not enough, Barca were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Athletic Bilbao on Thursday.
Betis looked set to compound Barcelona's blues at the rocking Estadio Benito Villamarin three days later, only for the visitors to twice come from behind before former Sevilla defender Lenglet wrapped up a 3-2 victory.
It was a welcome shot in the arm for Setien against the club he managed for the last two seasons, with Barca ending the weekend within three points of table-topping rivals Real Madrid.
But this was not a straightforward win. Sergio Canales' early spot-kick put Rubi's men ahead, only for Frenkie De Jong to swiftly level from a superb Messi pass.
Nabil Fekir's outstanding finish fired Betis back ahead midway through the first half, only for Sergio Busquets to controversially level for Barcelona deep in first-half stoppage time.
Betis goalkeeper Joel Robles did well to keep Messi at bay after the break, only for Lenglet to find a winner with an outstanding header from the Argentinian's free-kick.
But the drama did not stop there. First Fekir received his marching orders for showing petulance after being booked, with Lenglet soon following him down the tunnel as it ended 10 men apiece.
IMPORTANT: Sporting Life podcasts have new homes across the below platforms.
Please make sure you subscribe to ensure you don't miss future episodes of your favourite show.
Follow Sporting Life on social media - find us on Facebook here or tweet@SportingLifeFC
Related football links
- Premier League podcast
- Laura Woods column: Here's to you, Allan
- Alex Keble: How to fix Man City
- Pundit Panel: The VAR verdict
- Henderson favourite for PFA award
- Summer transfers set to happen
- Latest Paper Talk
- Our latest football tips
- Bruno Fernandes: What United will gain
- Super 6: Enter NOW!
- Fantasy Football: Pick your team now!
- Football results
- Latest football odds