ABERDEEN defender Rory McArdle was happy to play through the pain barrier to ensure his side earned a Clydesdale Bank Premier League draw with high-flying Hearts.
The Northern Ireland international required five stitches in his head following a first-half clash with Rudi Skacel but returned to the match to bravely battle through the 90 minutes.
He said: "Luckily I didn't have concussion as that is the main worry when you get smashed in the head."
He added: "The ball sat up and we both went for it so it was just one of those things. He apologised during the game. He's not the type of player who would go in maliciously trying to hurt someone. I think it was just unfortunate.
"I was a bit wary about heading the ball at first but once I got the first header out of the way then I just got on with it.
"Once the adrenaline is pumping you forget about it and the boys were talking to me a lot more trying to make sure I was focused."
An ankle injury meant the Dons were without Zander Diamond, an ever-present this season prior to the match, meaning McArdle linked up with Andrew Considine at the heart of the defence.
The 23-year-old was delighted with how the partnership performed against the Jambos, who went into the match knowing a win would have moved them above Rangers into second place in the SPL.
He said: "It's the first time I have played with Andrew as a centre-back pairing. Andrew is a good player - he talks well and wins his headers.
"We have played together loads in training but this was the first time in a match so it was pleasing that we managed to keep a clean sheet."