Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane praised James Rodriguez, describing the midfielder as a "key member" of his team.
James came off the bench early in the second half as Madrid recorded a 3-1 win at Osasuna on Saturday.
The Colombia international was linked with a move away throughout January, and has made just four LaLiga starts this season.
But Zidane was impressed by what the 25-year-old produced after replacing the injured Danilo in the 57th minute.
"James did well because it's not easy to step into a game like that which is so back and forth," he said.
"He is calm and helps the others to play, he is a key member of this side."
Zidane was satisfied with his team's performance as Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco and Lucas Vazquez got on the scoresheet.
But the Frenchman, who is optimistic over Danilo's injury, hopes his team are ready for a busy period, beginning with a clash against Napoli in the Champions League.
"We started with three at the back and with Marcelo and Danilo on the wings, but after the injury we had to change things in order to keep the balance and we were able to get the win," Zidane said.
"We have gone 15 days without playing and now we know that we'll be playing every three days. We need to rest up and then focus our attentions on Wednesday's game."