"I think the crowd's reaction was more 'welcome back, well done, we like you' than 'now Jimmy you have to single-handedly save us'."
Hodgson continued: "People are coming back from injury, and we have to be realistic.
"The fans have a vision of McBride, of Bullard, they have big place in their hearts, but they have to understand these players are recovering from serious injury and you don't recover from serious injury the moment someone snaps his fingers and puts you back on a football field.
"You need a number of games before you can come back to that which the fans remember of you."
Bullard, 29, is glad to be back in action - and is ready to do all he can for the Fulham cause.
He said: "The fans here are brilliant and I would like to thank them for that reception. It was awesome - but it wasn't the result we were hoping for.
"I've been praying for this day for 16 months and it's finally come. Now I need time to get match fit. Personally I can only do what I can. I'll be 100% when I'm out there and try and score some goals, make some goals.
"I'll get better with games. I just need games. I hope I can play at Bristol Rovers (in Tuesday's FA Cup replay), I want to play in every game for Fulham. I just enjoy being out there.
"There's no doubts at the back of my mind. I always said if there was then I couldn't play. That's why I've taken my time. When I'm running out there, I'm not thinking about my knee.
"If there's a tackle to win I'll go in for it the way I always have."