GUS Poyet has backed Vicente to be Albion’s trump card – if they nurse him through the rest of the season.
The manager wants to use his injury-plagued Spanish playmaker as much as he can but has warned fans not to expect him to play 90 minutes in every game.
Vicente, below, started and lasted Tuesday’s 1-1 draw against Blackburn Rovers at The Amex.
The 31-year-old former Valencia ace celebrated his first full outing since August with Albion’s second-half equaliser from the spot after coming off the bench to strike the winner from a free-kick at home to Hull last Saturday.
Poyet said Vicente was “destroyed” and couldn’t walk following his exertions against Rovers.
The Uruguayan is relieved the Seagulls have a free weekend before Tuesday’s visit to table-toppers Cardiff. “I know people want Vicente to play 90 minutes every day,” Poyet said. “He cannot.
“Now, without any doubt, he looks much better than a month ago, and that’s why he was on the pitch for 90 minutes.
“We are going to use him as much as we can but we need to keep him fit because, of course, he can make the difference.
“With the other players understanding his game, him using the quality of the others, it could be interesting and very good for the rest of the season.”
Poyet was tempted to substitute Leo Ulloa in the second half against Blackburn but gave his Argentinian target man his second 90 minutes in English football.
The January signing from Almeria will be looking to break his duck in the Championship at Cardiff after scoring on his debut at home to Arsenal in the FA Cup.
Poyet said: “He is all right, happy. He is looking for that goal in the league and the sooner he scores it the better.”