Nevland scored the opening goal before a brace by Clint Dempsey secured a 3-0 win over Rovers.
Nevland partnered Bobby Zamora up front for Fulham as Andy Johnson and Diomansy Kamara are struggling with injuries.
The former Viking striker has mostly been used as an impact player from the bench since joining Fulham almost two years ago.
“At the moment he is not a back-up because we’ve got serious problems as one of our strikers has been operated on and is out for two or three weeks, and another one has been out now for almost two months,” Hodgson told Sky Sports.
“Erik Nevland is becoming vitally important, but I must say he has been vitally important for us during the two years I’ve been at the club.
“He’s got that ability to score very important goals and there’s no doubt today the goal, which came against the run of play as they were more in our half than we were in their half, really set us up on the road to victory.”
He added: “It was fairly difficult to come to terms with the number of times the ball was in the air and the amount of heading duels the back players had to deal with, and they did it very well.
“They pushed up well after the long ball forward, but they didn’t, fortunately for us, create any real goalscoring chances from it and we were fortunate enough to score with a good move, but with our first real dominant attack of the game.
“In the second half we did a little bit better and in the end ran out easy winners. But when I say easy winners, the scoreline shows us easy winners, but we know it was nothing like an easy victory, it was a very, very tough victory.
“It’s one I’m very proud of because we had to stand up to a barrage of long balls and challenges to deal with, which we did, and then we had to try and make certain on the odd occasions we could get the ball down on to the floor to play we did that.
“I thought that’s what gave us the victory in the end.”