Brave Michael Nelson today revealed how he played through the pain barrier after dislocating his shoulder as he powered home a header to set Hibs on the path to victory over Ross County.
The big centre-half, wearing a mask to protect the cheekbone which was shattered in three places a few weeks ago, crashed to the turf in the Global Energy Stadium and didn’t even see his first goal in a green-and-white shirt hit the back of the net having thrown himself at Paul Cairney’s pinpoint corner.
And, he was left in agony, unable to celebrate and left to soldier on until half-time after gulping down some painkillers when his shoulder was heavily strapped, allowing him to return to the action to see fellow defender Jordon Forster clinch victory as he, too, scored his first goal for Hibs.
It was Terry Butcher’s first Scottish Premiership win since taking over at Easter Road, moving Hibs to just a point off a top-six berth, and a second in just four weeks in Dingwall where neither they or their new boss had ever won previously.
Today, Nelson insisted his latest injury was “not an issue,” adamant he’ll be ready to take his place when his old club Kilmarnock, fresh from their 4-0 hammering of Capital rivals Hearts, return to Edinburgh on Sunday.
He said: “I took a knock on my head when I scored but then I landed awkwardly. James jumped on my back and my left shoulder was in a funny position. I couldn’t tell you about the goal – all I can remember was going to head it and then landing in a heap on the floor. I was in quite a bit of pain but disappointed I couldn’t celebrate.
“When the physio [David Henderson] came on and put my arm back down I felt a big ‘clunk’. He thinks there might have been a partial dislocation.” Nevertheless, 33-year-old Nelson was forced to take painkillers to numb the pain as he gritted his teeth, determined to continue playing his part in clinching a first league win since mid-October. He said: “I was hoping no-one would bash into it in case it did go. I just wanted to try to take my mind of it. I took a couple of painkillers and they seemed to do the job. At half-time, Hendo strapped it up and I was all right. I’ve got painkillers to take over the next couple of days and I’ll probably also go for a scan, but it’s not an issue.”
Hibs’ preparations for the match had been disrupted when, having opted to travel on the day to enable them to spend Christmas Day with their families, their coach broke down on the outskirts of Perth, leaving them to wait more than an hour for a replacement – the time spent munching bacon butties and sausage rolls for their pre-match meal after a local restaurant threw open its doors for them.
Nelson said: “It wasn’t ideal, but the boys dug in and I thought we turned in a very professional performance and I felt we won quite comfortably.”