Michael van Gerwen is braced for an intense battle to secure his place in the play-offs as phase two of the Premier League Darts campaign begins in Sheffield.

LeylandSix wins and two draws from his first nine matches ensures the world champion heads into the first week after elimination night in pole position in the table and well placed to grab one of four berths for the play-offs.

But van Gerwen, who is sponsored by trade paint giant Leyland Paints, knows there is still plenty of work to do to secure his place in London on May 22.

“There is a long way to go in the Premier League and I know people will come past me if my form drops,” said the 24-year-old.

“Everyone is desperate to make it to the play-offs so there are going to be some fantastic matches between now and the end of the season.

“I’m in a good position at the moment but I can’t take anything for granted because there are so many good players.”

Van Gerwen, who played out a high-quality 6-6 draw with fellow Leyland Paints ambassador Simon Whitlock last week, faces Robert Thornton in Sheffield having defeated the Scotsman 7-5 earlier in the season.

“Robert’s a great player and he will think that a couple of wins in the next three weeks will put him on course for the play-offs,” added van Gerwen.

“We had a really tight game earlier in the season and I think it will be another close one in Sheffield.

“But I’m top of the table at the moment and my aim is to stay there for the rest of the season.”

Along with van Gerwen, Whitlock and former world champion Mark Webster are also sponsored by Leyland Paints.

Leyland Paints was founded in 1922 and has a long and distinguished history of affordable, trade quality paints.

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