Doctors operated on Pogatetz yesterday and have confirmed that the injury is a recurrence of the fractured cheekbone that he suffered during Boro's Uefa Cup run under Steve McClaren in 2006.
Middlesbrough v Aston Villa: PreviewA club spokesman said: "Emanuel Pogatetz underwent surgery at James Cook University Hospital yesterday after fracturing his left cheekbone against Plymouth Argyle.
"The normal recovery time would be six weeks but Boro's medical staff are hoping they might be able to fit him with a protective mask like the one worn by Mark Schwarzer during Boro's Uefa Cup final defeat by Seville.
"However, this may not be possible because the injury is a repetition of an earlier one. The injury is a recurrence of one Pogatetz sustained midway through he second half of Boro's 2-0 Uefa Cup quarter-final defeat at Basel in March 2006.
"He will be assessed by the surgeon in a week."
Pogatetz, nicknamed 'Mad Dog' by his colleagues during the McClaren era, was making his first start on Saturday after a six-month lay off with a knee injury.
He needed lengthy treatment after a clash of heads with Plymouth defender Shane Lowry when he challenged for a high ball from a corner early in the second half.
He was eventually carried off the pitch and taken to hospital following a five-minute stoppage.
"It's a shame for the big fella," Strachan said. "We brought him back in and he was so enthusiastic in everything he did."
As well as Pogatetz, Strachan will also be without former Arsenal forward Jeremie Aliadiere after he under went surgery on a troublesome ankle last week.