Demons star Petracca has spleen surgery after nasty hit

Melbourne star Christian Petracca has needed surgery on his spleen in the wake of the heavy knock to the ribs he suffered against Collingwood, with no timeline on his AFL return.

Petracca was in agony after Magpies captain Darcy Moore cannoned into his back late in the first term of the AFL King's Birthday clash on Monday at the MCG.

The utility returned to the field, but was subbed out of the game early in the third term and eventually was taken to hospital by ambulance and had surgery overnight to stop the bleeding.

Petracca, 28, suffered four broken ribs and a small lung puncture, as well as a lacerated spleen.

He remains in hospital for observation and recovery and faces a long stint on the sidelines, adding to Melbourne's woes after their 38-point loss to the Magpies.

"Obviously, Christian’s health is the number one priority for us at the moment," Melbourne football boss Alan Richardson said in a statement. 

"The next few weeks will be crucial, and we'll be monitoring his progress closely to make sure he heals properly and fully. 

"As his recovery progresses, we will look towards a return to play timeline.

“He's obviously an extremely important player for the team, but his health and recovery are our top priorities right now."

In the wake of the 92-point belting from Fremantle the previous week, Melbourne's ball use was terrible at times against Collingwood and they are in major trouble.

But vice-captain Jack Viney is confident Melbourne can get to the bottom of their battling midfield's issues and find a way to kickstart their stuttering season.

Jack Viney.
Melbourne's Jack Viney insists his sliding side can improve.

The Demons' on-ball division, led by Max Gawn, Petracca, Clayton Oliver and Viney, has previously been an envy of their AFL rivals.

But they were well beaten in losses to Fremantle, then Collingwood on the King's Birthday, which dropped Melbourne to 10th on the ladder after defeats in four of their past five games.

Against Fremantle, Melbourne lost clearances 48-23 and centre clearances 22-10, then against Collingwood the Demons lost clearances 39-29 and centre clearances 14-6.

"Losing clearance significantly over the last two weeks, so it definitely is an area that we need to get better at and work on," Viney told AAP. 

"I'm sure there'll be a bit of a deep dive into it over the bye and (we'll) come away and find some really clear areas that we need to get better at in there.

"We've tried a few different people through the midfield and we're probably not getting the desired results. 

"So I know as a midfield group we continue to look at how we get better and improve, and I'm confident we'll be able to do so."

Clayton Oliver, who had an interrupted pre-season, has dropped off in form, but Viney wasn't concerned.

Clayton Oliver.
Clayton Oliver gathered a team-high 28 touches against the Magpies.

Viney was confident Melbourne would make the most of their bye before returning to action against North Melbourne on June 22.

"We're just going to stick to the process - not really try and get too emotional or try and make any drastic changes," he said.

"We made some big changes this week and felt like we got some desired results we were after, but not enough to get the job done.

"We'll keep chipping away at those and keep staying united as a team and finding ways to improve." 

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