Protective mask key to Pogatetz return
EMANUEL POGATETZ will visit a specialist next week in the hope of receiving medical clearance to wear a protective mask and return to action with Middlesbrough ahead of schedule. A season of misfortune for Pogatetz deteriorated further on Saturday when his first appearance in the Championship was cut short after sustaining a fractured cheekbone. It is the second time in three years that he has sustained the injury and he underwent surgery on Sunday. While the operation has been deemed a success, further assessment has indicated he will be out for six weeks unless he wears a mask similar to those worn by the likes od Paul Gascoigne and Mark Schwarzer in the past. However, as it a recurrence of an old injury he received in the UEFA Cup clash with Basle in 2006, he sees a specialist next week to learn whether or not he can play with a protective mask. Manager Gordon Strachan was keen to add the defenders experience against Plymouth last Saturday, despite the fact the Austrian had not even appeared as a substitute all season. He has only recently recovered from knee surgery and has figured in a couple of reserve matches. Strachan will now be assessing his options ahead of Saturdays trip to Crystal Palace, where Joe Bennett and Jonathan Grounds are the likely candidates to come in. It is not necessarily defensively that Strachan has the problems, despite conceding a weak Plymouth winner from Jamie Mackie at the Riverside three days ago. The former Celtic manager is looking to add more creativity to his side in the coming months, with a couple of midfielders known to be in his thinking. There has also been speculation since he took over about certain strikers, with Peterboroughs Craig Mackail- Smith, Coventrys Leon Best and Rangers Kenny Miller the three most recent to be linked. Peterborough director of football Barry Fry last night claimed there had been no contact about Mackail-Smith from Strachan, but what is clear is that the Boro chief will be assessing his options with January around the corner. His first move last week was to bring in a new target-man, with Birminghams Marcus Bent arriving on loan for two months. Bent made his debut as a second half substitute against Plymouth and he was part of the Blues team that earned promotion from the Championship last season. I was in the division last season with Birmingham and we got promoted after a long graft, he said. It wasnt the debut I would have liked because it wasnt the result we wanted because we didnt get the three points, but on the positives we had plenty of chances and played some good football. Its going to be a very hard season, theres going to be a lot of people jumping on our backs and weve got to stick together and move on. Its two or three months into the season, and although weve had a few bad results were still at the top end of the table.
Related Middlesbrough News