Tiote has struggled with injury so far this campaign, but he made his first start of the new term in Newcastle's 6-2 win over Norwich City on Sunday.
Although the Ivorian was subbed off at half-time, after picking up a yellow card early on, McClaren still believes he will be important as the season progresses.
“We are trying to get Cheick involved again because we think he can be a big player for us," he said. "He wasn’t going to last the game – it was his first game, he’s trained for two weeks.
“We just felt we need to start him – his energy is quite infectious – and we knew he wouldn’t last and we just brought Vurnon Anita on for a bit more stability.
“But it’s good that Cheick gets 45 and he’s involved again.”
Tiote's performance against Norwich was a decent one, but he will have been frustrated to pick up a booking so early on.
The midfield enforcer dived into a needless challenge, and he could have few complaints when the referee did brandish a yellow.
Thankfully for Newcastle, Anita did well after being introduced, and the Magpies were able to claim their first victory of the season, in what was a pulsating match.
Newcastle will now head into the derby game against Sunderland at the weekend with confidence, and another victory could launch them out of the relegation zone.