Michael van Gerwen is hoping to put clear daylight between himself and the Premier League chasing pack by claiming victory in Thursday’s top-of-the-table clash with Peter Wright.

World champion van Gerwen leads the table after seven of the 14-week season and is ahead of Wright on leg dSimon Whitlockifference, with the pair two points clear of third place Raymond van Barneveld.

Thursday’s clash will represent a repeat of the World Championship final in January which Leyland Paints-sponsored van Gerwen won, but the Dutch star is taking nothing for granted.

“It’s going to be a really difficult game because Peter is unbeaten in the Premier League and on excellent form,” said van Gerwen.

“Peter is probably the most improved player on the circuit in the last 12 months.

“It’s a big game for both of us because the winner will pull clear of the rest and be in a great position to finish in the top four and qualify for the play-offs.”

Reigning champion van Gerwen is delighted to be in such a strong position at the midway point of the campaign.

“It’s gone well so far,” he added. “It’s disappointing to have lost one of my matches but I’m top of the table so I couldn’t have really asked for much more.

“The important thing now is I keep it going over the last seven weeks because everyone is going to be desperate to make it through to the play-offs.”

Van Gerwen’s fellow Premier League star Simon Whitlock is refusing to give up hope on securing his Premier League survival as he gears up for a crucial showdown with Wes Newton.

World number four Whitlock, who is sponsored by trade paint giant Leyland Paints, heads to Dublin for a must-win clash with Newton on Thursday.

Both players are battling to avoid relegation, with two players dropping out after next week’s action in Cardiff.

But Whitlock, who is based in Waterlooville, is hopeful he can still pull off a ‘great escape.’

“I’ve got two matches left before two players drop out and if I win them both then I think I will have a good chance of staying in,” said the Wizard of Oz.

“The match against Wes is a big one for both of us and I know that if I lose, there is no chance of me qualifying.

“I know how important it is and hopefully I can rise to the occasion with a big performance.”

Whitlock is taking heart from his last three performances which have seen him defeat Robert Thornton, draw with Dave Chisnall and suffer a narrow defeat to high-flying Peter Wright.

“The first few weeks were very tough because I wasn’t anywhere near 100 per cent health wise,” he added.

“That put me on the back foot but I’ve kept battling away and I still have a chance of getting through week nine.

“I need two big performances but I believe I can do it.”

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

Whitlock’s fellow Premier League star Michael van Gerwen and former World Champion Mark Webster are also sponsored by Leyland Paints

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