KRIS Ajer said last night that he is ready to put his head in where it hurts again in what promises to be a bruising battle against Aberdeen on Sunday for a William Hill Scottish Cup final place. The 20-year-old Norwegian, who earned new respect from the Parkhead supporters in the last week or so for a series of match-winning tackles in the Old Firm derby against Rangers, was on the wrong end of a Duckens Nazon elbow in midweek and was playing on Saturday with stitches freshly removed from a recent facial injury. With Sam Cosgrove likely to lead the line for Aberdeen on Sunday, Celtic’s Viking warrior can be sure of another aerial battering but the converted midfielder insists he is prepared to put his body on the line again.

“As a centre half you have to get used to that kind of stuff,” said Ajer. “When you go up to win these duels you know something can happen. But you always have to go in 100 per cent or you shouldn’t be playing. That will never be a concern for me.

“He [Cosgrove] has done really well this season,” Ajer added. “We know Aberdeen are in great form right now and they will make it really difficult. It will be a battle and we have to win the physical battle before you earn the right to play. My stitches had been in for a week but the doctors did a fantastic job. I’ve had enough head knocks this season so hopefully there’s no more to come.”

With Dedryck Boyata likely to have played his last game for the club and Filip Benkovic set to return to parent club Leicester this summer, Ajer’s continued emergence is timely considering Celtic are likely to have Champions League qualifiers this July. He said he had watched the clips of his crucial tackles against Rangers’ Joe Worrall and James Tavernier back. “I don’t score that many goals so I have to celebrate the stuff that I can,” said Ajer. “It was a great feeling to have that tackle and my reaction was to celebrate it. When you hear the fans celebrating your tackle like that, and you know how much it means to everyone, the adrenaline starts pumping and you just want to celebrate. It was a good feeling. I’ve watched it back a few times. I always get clips sent to me after every game.”