Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini says Carlos Tevez can play a crucial part in their Premier League title pursuit after six months out.
Tevez has been a virtual outcast since he allegedly refused to play in the Champions League loss at Bayern Munich.
But he set up Samir Nasri’s winner in the 2-1 win over Chelsea to reduce Manchester United’s lead to a point.
“In 10 days or two weeks Carlos will be fitter and in better form and it will be important for us,” said Mancini.
“He is maybe not 100% but he knows football and it was an important, incredible assist for Samir’s goal.
“When he plays he knows where he should take the ball. He is an important player but he maybe needs another two or three weeks.
I spoke to Carlos after the game and he was happy, like the other players, but I have been speaking to him every day for the last month and it is normal.”
The Argentine came on as a substitute after Gary Cahill’s deflected shot put Chelsea ahead, superbly creating Nasri’s winner five minutes from time after Sergio Aguero had equalised from the penalty spot.
And Mancini believes City’s show of character in making the comeback could also be vital in the title run-in.
“We had the desire and we wanted to win,” the Italian manager told BBC Sport. “The guys were fantastic because they wanted to win until the last second.
“Tonight we took three points but not only three points, more than three points.
“It was an really important goal for us. I think that after tonight something changed inside us.
“We have nine games to go and we have a very difficult game on Saturday against Stoke, but this game might not only be important for the three points but for what happens after this victory.”
Mancini removed Mario Balotelli at halftime, replacing him with Gareth Barry, and was blunt about the reasons behind the decision, explaining: “I did not like how he played. It was a tactical substitution.”