James Wade, Robert Thornton and Simon Whitlock to fight it out for final Premier League play-off spot

Last Updated: 09/05/13 7:44pm

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The race for the final place in the Premier League play-offs reaches its climax on Thursday night as James Wade, Robert Thornton and Simon Whitlock do battle for a spot in the top four.

All three men still have a chance to qualify and join Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld in the play-offs ahead of the final round of the regular season which takes place at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle.

Wade currently occupies fourth place in the standing on 19 points, with Thornton and Whitlock one and two points behind him respectively, although both the Scot and the Australian have played a game less than their English rival.

On paper Wade - who lost his both matches last weekend in Liverpool - has a tough assignment as he takes on 15-time world champion Phil Taylor in his last fixture, but the 30-year-old remains confident of his chances.

"It would have been nice to have qualified already but I will prepare myself to go and get the job done on Thursday," said Wade. "It hasn't gone my way in the last few weeks but I'm in the best position of the three fighting for the last spot at the moment."

Thornton has enjoyed a fine debut season in the competition and would definitely earn a play-off berth if he wins both his matches in Newcastle - although that will prove a big ask as he takes on van Barneveld and then van Gerwen.

Confident

"It's great that it's still in my own hands," said Thornton, who will be high on confidence following his Players Championship victory over the weekend. "All through the season I've just taken it one game at a time, and that's what I'll do on Thursday.

"I don't fear anybody and I'm just enjoying being up on the big stage taking on these players. If I do manage to do enough to get into the play-offs it would be a massive achievement."
Robert Thornton

"I don't fear anybody and I'm just enjoying being up on the big stage taking on these players. If I do manage to do enough to get into the play-offs it would be a massive achievement."

Whitlock has a double-header of his own on Thursday as he faces the already-eliminated Adrian Lewis and then van Barneveld, looking to leapfrog both Thornton and Wade.

"It would be huge if I can qualify," said Whitlock. "I feel really confident and I'm looking forward to Thursday night. I've played some really good darts in the last month or so and I believe I can do it."

There are one or two other issues to be resolved with van Barneveld still having a chance to top the standings should he win both of his games in Newcastle and van Gerwen loses his to Thornton.

If that were the case then he would play the fourth-placed player in the semi-finals with Taylor and van Gerwen clashing in the play-off contest, but MVG remains the clear favourite to end on top of the pile with a three-point lead over his compatriot.

Week 14 fixtures:
Andy Hamilton v Adrian Lewis
Robert Thornton v Raymond van Barneveld
Adrian Lewis v Simon Whitlock
Phil Taylor v James Wade
Michael van Gerwen v Robert Thornton
Simon Whitlock v Raymond van Barneveld

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