Patrick Kisnorbo has revealed that he is playing through pain to keep his place in Leeds United's team after being told he may require plastic surgery on a head wound.
The Australian centre-back is suffering from the after-effects of a cut sustained on the first day of the season, but he has rejected the option of an operation for fear of hindering his domestic and international ambitions.
Kisnorbo required 12 stitches in a gash to his forehead following Leeds' 2-1 win over Exeter City at Elland Road on August 8, and he has been forced to wear protective bandages in all eight of his subsequent appearances.
United's summer signing for Leicester City has won widespread praise for his performances this season and has established himself convincingly at the centre of Leeds' defence while maintaining his involvement with Australia's national squad.
Kisnorbo has one eye on the League One title and the other on selection for the 2010 World Cup – a tournament that Australia have already qualified for – and he dismissed the idea of undergoing surgery at a crucial stage of the year.
The defender has already made two appearances for Australia this season in friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and South Korea and appears to be on the verge of securing a ticket to South Africa.
Kisnorbo said: "When I went away with Australia they told me that I might need plastic surgery on the cut.
"But I can't see myself going for that at the moment because I've got bigger things to worry about than getting this sorted. I can keep wearing my headband, stay strapped up and get on with it.
"Every time I head the ball it hurts but it's something I've got to deal with. That's my job and I'll carrying on doing it to the best of my ability."Kisnorbo has missed two of United's fixtures this season due to international commitments, but the injury to his head has not prevented him from taking to the field with Leeds at any stage of the term.
The club's medical staff will bandage him up again for Saturday's match at MK Dons and Kisnorbo has no intention of stepping out of the team to allow his head to heal properly.
The 28-year-old said: "My head actually hurts when I play because I cut all the nerves. The bandage is there for protection.
"I don't like wearing it but if it's going to help me and prevent me from getting cut again then I might as well use it. I'm not very good looking anyway so it probably helps!"
The former Leicester and Heart of Midlothian centre-back has been a revelation since his free transfer to Elland Road, and he stole the show with an excellent performance during Tuesday night's Carling Cup defeat to Liverpool at Elland Road.
Leeds manager, Simon Grayson, claimed when he signed Kisnorbo that he had pulled off a "big coup" by persuading a defender who came close to joining Fulham two years ago to step down into League One.
Kisnorbo hopes to end his first season at Elland Road by winning promotion to the Championship and winning a place in Australia's World Cup squad but he urged his team-mates to look at the "bigger picture" after experiencing against Liverpool the type of occasion that Leeds grew accustomed to during their years as a Premier League club.
Kisnorbo admitted the Carling Cup tie provided strong motivation for Leeds to reach a higher level of the English leagues, but he said: "You have to look a bit deeper and see the bigger picture.
"There's no point talking about being in the Premier League when we haven't even got out of League One. We're only eight games into the season. It's one step at a time."