Premier League Darts: Phil Taylor in action twice as play-off race hots up in Birmingham

Last Updated: 24/04/13 4:13pm

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James Wade: chance to cement hold on second place in the table against Raymond van Barneveld

James Wade: chance to cement hold on second place in the table against Raymond van Barneveld

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The battle for McCoy's Premier League Darts play-off places continues in Birmingham on Thursday, with Phil Taylor, Simon Whitlock, Adrian Lewis and Robert Thornton facing crucial nights in their bids for a top-four finish.

The 12th night of league action will see six matches held at the NIA, with birthday boy Michael van Gerwen needing only one point to mathematically secure his play-off place.

The players placed second and third in the table, James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld, clash in a contest which could prove significant for the winner, while their rivals in the hunt for top four spots meet in other key games.

Fourth-placed Taylor, the reigning champion, doubles up in Birmingham with games against Stoke rival Lewis and 2012 runner-up Whitlock.

Taylor ended a two-game losing run by picking up a win and a draw in Dublin last week, and is hoping that he can enjoy similar success as he plays twice for a second time in Birmingham.

"It was a difficult night in Dublin and it will be tough again in Birmingham, but I'm looking forward to the challenge," said Taylor.

"I've not been at my best recently but I'm doing a lot of work to improve my game. I'm trying a few things and it's not quite right yet, but I'll keep trying."

Taylor sits two points clear of Thornton and three ahead of Andy Hamilton and Whitlock going into the final three league nights.

Double shift

Thornton also doubles up in Birmingham, as he takes on Hamilton and Lewis, and said: "I'll just take each game as it comes and give it my best shot.

"All the way through the season I've just gone up there to try and enjoy the matches, and if my darts go in then it's great, if not then so be it. I'm loving the Premier League and it seems to have brought the best out of me."

Whitlock has won his last two matches since avoiding the threat of elimination on Judgement Night, and is eagerly awaiting his double header against Van Gerwen and Taylor.

The Australian said: "I've got the number one and two in the world and I'm going to try and do some damage! I'll be trying to beat them both, and I can't wait.

"I know I can beat both these guys, I've done it many times before, and if I can win the first game, get some momentum and confidence for the second one, I believe I can do it."

Wade, the 2009 Premier League champion, is looking to further cement his top-four place when he meets Van Barneveld - and is in bullish mood ahead of their second-versus-third encounter.

"I won't lose to him," said Wade. "We drew the last time we played and I was awful - I had gastroenteritis and hadn't slept for two days and I still got a draw.

"People are saying he's having a great year but I don't see that with Barney. I don't see that his averages are there - I see that he's been getting the right results with small averages and small performances.

"He isn't playing that great - look at the scoresheets, the averages and the finishing percentages - and I look forward to playing him."

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