Barcelona head coach Xavi will continue to exercise "great caution" with Ansu Fati despite his encouraging form from the bench.
The Spain international sustained a serious knee injury in November 2020 that required operations, and then he had recurring hamstring issues.
As a result, Fati has made just nine league starts since his breakthrough in the 2019-20 season and has been limited to substitute appearances in his five outings this term.
Despite those limited opportunities, Fati has caught the eye with two goals and two assists in 120 minutes of LaLiga football, but Xavi made it clear he will not rush the 19-year-old back into the starting line-up.
"We are making a plan with great caution. These sensations I had are costing a little, but we are doing well," he said in Friday's press conference.
"He has to be an important footballer for us. You have to raise the pace, but little by little. It's a difficult situation to manage because he hasn't been playing for a long time and the pace and intensity requires time but also prudence and caution.
"At Barcelona, I have decided that it is a matter of caution and prudence. I like him and it motivates me [to get him] in the starting eleven. It's not a mental issue.
"He takes it well. I spoke to him seven or eight days ago. I told him where we were and made him speak. I have regular meetings with the players.
"We are very close to everyone, but especially to Ansu because he is a special case."
Another important cog in Barcelona machine, Gavi, penned a new contract this week and Xavi was delighted to have the midfielder secured for the long-term.
"It's great news, the most important of the whole week. Player of the present and future. He is a leader, despite his age," he added.
"He has character, passion. He's a heart with legs. He has intensity, he is able to play as you want, in different positions. He has matured, he understands time very well, he plays more fluidly."