Relieved Simon Whitlock believes the pressure is off as he bids to mount a charge to reach the Premier League Darts play-offs.

Simon WhitlockAustralian Whitlock, who lives in Waterlooville, avoided elimination at the nine-week stage of the Premier League on Judgement Night in Brighton last week.

Wes Newton and Gary Anderson were the players relegated, guaranteeing Whitlock – who is sponsored by Leyland Paints ­- another seven matches over the next five weeks, starting in Sheffield on Thursday.

The Wizard is five points adrift of the top four, but knows there is still sufficient time to battle his way up the table.

And he is confident of making his mark now that the threat of relegation has been removed.

“There has been a lot of pressure on the last few weeks for all the players because nobody wanted to be the first to be relegated,” said Whitlock.

“Now that’s out the way and thankfully I survived, I’m really looking forward to the rest of the Premier League.

“There’s a lot of work to do to make the top four but everyone left in has still got an excellent chance of reaching the play-offs.

“I can relax a bit now and hopefully I can get a few quick wins and put myself right back in contention.”

Whitlock faces Robert Thornton in Sheffield, and knows the Scot is on blistering form having claimed the scalp of Phil Taylor last week.

“It’s a massive game for me because Robert is currently fourth and it’s a chance to bring the points gap between us down to three points,” he added.

“Robert has been one of the stars of the Premier League so far and has produced some brilliant performances.

“It’s going to be another tough one but I know I’m capable of getting the right result if I perform to my potential.”

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