Reigning champion Gary Anderson says he has recovered from illness and is ready to make his 2016 Betway Premier League bow on Thursday night – and even had some words of warning for Michael van Gerwen ahead of their meeting at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena.
Anderson successfully retained his World Championship crown at the start of the year, but was forced to delay the start of the defence of his Premier League title in Leeds last week after suffering a throat infection.
But after a period of recuperation, the Flying Scotsman is now ready to take to the stage once again.
“I just came down with the flu on Wednesday and was absolutely crippled with it by the time of the opening night,” Anderson told the Betway Insider.
“I never even saw the opening night on telly as I felt so bad that I just stayed in bed. It was only on Tuesday that I was able to go out of the house for the first time.
“I am still not 100 per cent but I am feeling a hell of a lot better. I’m looking forward to getting back on the road this week.
“I’ve got Wednesday night and Thursday to get ready, so I will need to squeeze all of my practice into about six hours. But that should be enough time to get back to normal.
“Newcastle is one of my favourite venues so it will be good to get back on the stage there.”
Up first for Anderson is Van Gerwen – the world No. 1 who he beat in last season’s final to lift the trophy for the second time following his triumph in 2011.
Having barely thrown a dart in anger since becoming world champion for the second consecutive year at Alexandra Palace, Anderson concedes that he may be a little rusty.
The pressure, though, is all on his opponent according to the Scotsman after Mighty Mike saw a 3-0 lead disappear to lose 7-4 to James Wade on the opening night.
“It’s a tough start for me against Michael but it’s also a tough game for him,” said Anderson.
“He’s already lost one game so what happens if he loses two? I’m there to win and he’s there to win.
“It’s simple: whoever plays the best darts on the night wins and that’s that.”As a result of Anderson’s withdrawal last week, debutant Michael Smith was forced to play two matches – and was beaten by Peter Wright and Adrian Lewis respectively – after losing a coin toss.
Having had a big influence on the career of the 24-year-old rookie, with whom he also shares a manager, Anderson regrets how circumstances conspired against his close friend.
“I don’t like missing playing darts but I actually felt more sorry for Michael Smith,” he said.
“It was a big night for him making his Premier League debut and unfortunately I wasn’t there to watch it.
“I actually thought that the PDC might have put Peter Wright through to play two games given that it was Michael’s first time.
“He was thrown in at the deep end so it can only get easier for him now. He’s two games down but I’m sure he’ll bounce back.
“It’s going to be a good game between him and Robert [Thornton] on Thursday as they both need a win so I am expecting a cracking match from both of them.”
It was confirmed this week that Anderson will make up his game in hand in week seven of the tournament at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, where he will play Lewis and Peter Wright.
Having always received a vociferous backing in his home country, the rescheduling appears a kind twist of fate.
The defending champion, however, is not so sure.
“We don’t get a lot of tournaments up in Scotland and I enjoy playing there so it will be good to get back up in front of the Scottish supporters, but I don’t know if it will be an advantage,” said Anderson.
“When you play in front of your home crowd there is actually more pressure on you, so we will just have to wait and see how things stand by the time it comes around.”
Click below to watch Gary Anderson discuss his 2015 Premier League triumph and the importance of a good start this time around.