Pogatetz to miss rest of season with facial injury

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Emanuel Pogatetz's season has come to a premature end because the Middlesbrough defender needs surgery to repair a facial fracture. The 23-year-old was carried from the pitch in Basle on Thursday night following a clash of heads and will require an operation next week.

"Emanuel suffered a badly broken nose and a fracture to the maxilla, a bone at the side of his left cheek," a club spokesman said yesterday. "He will have an operation next week and he will miss the rest of the season."

Pogatetz, who had five stitches put into a facial wound after a clash with Bolton Wanderers' Kevin Davies last Sunday, was hurt as he challenged for a high ball with Basle midfielder Mladen Petric during his side's 2-0 Uefa Cup quarter-final first-leg defeat. The former Bayer Leverkusen player, who joined Boro for £1.8m last summer, collapsed in agony and after lengthy treatment on the pitch, was carried off on a stretcher and taken to hospital. Initial fears that he had fractured his skull were dispelled in Switzerland and he was allowed to fly home with the rest of his team-mates early yesterday.

The Austrian international, nicknamed "Mad Dog" by his team-mates, was taken straight to Middlesbrough's James Cook Hospital on his return, and surgery was recommended. He was at the club's training headquarters yesterday sporting a badly bruised cheek.

The Boro physiotherapist, Grant Downie, was quick to praise all those involved in the player's treatment both in Switzerland and back on Teesside.

"The medical back-up at the ground was good. The Swiss authorities were very helpful and the team at the local hospital were very good," Downie said. "Boro's medical team were, as usual, efficient, making sure he received treatment as soon as possible. We would like to thank all concerned for the way this injury has been dealt with."

Pogatetz has become a key figure in the Boro squad, having played on the left of both the defence and the midfield, as well as in central defence, where he lined up on Thursday.

Middlesbrough were stunned by two goals right before half-time in Basle and the defeat leaves them with a tough task to reach the semi-finals, with the second leg to come at the Riverside Stadium on Thursday.