MORTON boss Jim Duffy has praised patched-up centre half Luca Gasparotto for playing through the pain barrier and helping his side to four wins on the trot.

Canadian-born Gasparotto, 22, came off second best during Saturday’s 3-0 Scottish Cup fifth round win over Dumbarton following an aerial challenge.

The incident took place just before half-time and the Ton defender required four stitches for a gash on his eyebrow.

But the rugged Ton ace declared himself fit and ready to go for the second 45, playing his part in another Ton victory — and a clean sheet.

Duffy reckons the youngster showed plenty of character to get back out on the pitch and play another starring role in the centre of defence.

Duffy said: “Luca’s like that. He’s got natural aggression and determination to try to make sure he stays on the pitch as often as possible.

“We’re a bit stretched with injuries and we want to try to keep as many players on the pitch as often as we can.

“Luca got four stitches right on his eyebrow, it happened just before half-time.

“It was just a clash of heads when he went up for a corner and that can happen when you have two big guys competing to win the ball.

“Sometimes you get that, but he got the stitches at half-time and he was more than happy to continue.

“There was no head knock or concussion. He came out in the second half and he was happy to give it a go.”

Although delighted with the performance and result, Duffy also praised his side for keeping the back door firmly closed.

He told Tele Sport: “Managers are probably a wee bit more delighted when you get a clean sheet and that’s down to organisation.

“But that comes from everybody. When you’re organised and make it difficult for the opposition to create against you, then I think there’s always a degree of satisfaction.

“Even when you are not at your creative best or not playing great, if you can keep the back door closed then there’s always a chance of winning games, so we’re delighted about that.

“The back four have been terrific but it’s the whole team that’s been working very hard.”

Duffy’s side negotiate the first of four difficult league games this Saturday, travelling down the M74 to take on Queen of the South at Palmerston.

The weekend fixture signals the first of four matches in the space of 10 days — before the club’s big clash with Celtic in the Scottish Cup quarter-final next month.

And Duffy is already telling the players to put the cup clash to the back of their minds and focus solely on winning even more league points.

He said: “We have four games coming up in the space of 10 days, playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday. So it’s a very hectic schedule.

“We have three away games to Queen of the South, Inverness and Dumbarton and every game brings its own challenges.

“But the one thing about the Celtic game is that it’s a glamour tie, it’ll bring its own spotlight, but we have to put it at the back of our minds and try to concentrate on the games ahead.”