Beppe Sannino believes Almen Abdi has earned a place in the hearts of the Watford supporters and says it was important to give the midfielder a chance to experience "the smell of the game" against Bristol City.
Abdi made his first appearance for the Hornets since August 31 when he came off the bench in the 75th minute on Tuesday night.
The 27-year-old has been suffering with an ongoing foot problem and his return to the field was greeted with a standing ovation by the Vicarage Road faithful, who cheered his every touch after he came on.
"I am happy for Abdi because I can see he is part of the supporters," said Sannino.
"He was able to get into the supporters’ hearts because he was performing well and he deserved that.
"I am very happy for him tonight and it was great to see the standing ovation when he came on."
In the build-up to the match the club stressed that Abdi is still in a "transitional period" of his recovery but Sannino believes his run-out against Bristol City was beneficial for both him and his teammates.
Sannino said: "Of course he is not 100 per cent but for me it was very important to give him the chance to be part of the team and to feel the smell of the game."
He added: "Because Abdi is experienced, he can transmit to the other players some valuable composure."