Simon Grayson says seeing Jermaine Beckford back in a Preston North End shirt was a major psychological boost.
Beckford ended a six-and-a-half month absence from first-team duty by coming on as a substitute in the 85th minute of the 1-1 draw against Queens Park Rangers at Deepdale.
The 32-year-old front man had been sidelined after undergoing microfracturing surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his right knee.
It was another substitute, Eoin Doyle, who found the net for North End to rescue a point.
Doyle headed home a Greg Cunningham cross 90 seconds into stoppage-time to equalise Sebastian Polter’s early goal for the visitors.
PNE manager Grayson said: “We were without Jermaine for a long time.
“He has been training back training with us for about 10 days.
“We have eased him back in, with him playing 50 minutes of an in-house game on Tuesday when he looked nice and sharp.
“It was always going to be 10 minutes at the most which he got in this game.
“Psychologically, it was nice for Jermaine to be back among it and you heard the roar from the supporters when he was warming-up and then came on.
“It was a big boost for everyone and now he has two weeks during the international break to keep working on his fitness.”
Grayson felt a draw was the least North End deserved from their meeting with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s QPR side.
But it took them an age to deliver parity with the quality of the final pass or cross often lacking.
“We have got good spirit and good character about us,” said Grayson.
“I thought a draw was the least we deserved, we played well, passed the ball well and the only thing that was missing was a bit of quality in terms of the right pass when we were in good areas.
“We kept on asking questions and ended up getting the equaliser.
“Doyler made good movement and got in the right place at the right time to score.
“A minute later, he had another similar opportunity which went straight at Alex Smithies.
“I have rated Doyler highly since we tried to sign him from Chesterfield last year.
“He is a goalscorer but sometimes it takes time for things to happen with players at a club.
“We have got a lot of belief in Doyler, I see him in training every day and his finishing is very good.
“He hasn’t had the starts he wants because of how we have played in terms of a system or other people have been in ahead of him.
“But he is certainly a team player, a squad player and I’m glad we have got him.”