MERVYN KING is seeking to consolidate his advantage at the head of the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts table when the tournament visits the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester on Thursday.

King sits two points clear of James Wade at the head of the table following a draw against defending champion Phil Taylor in Newcastle last week.

That saw King drop his first point of the season, but the 42-year-old is confident he can claim a fifth victory in his opening six games when he meets Raymond van Barneveld in Manchester.

“I’ll look forward to playing Raymond and it will be a big challenge,” said King. “He’s been back to his best in the last few weeks so it will be tough.

“I had chances to win against Phil last week and he punished me, but I’m still unbeaten and on course for the top four at the end of the league phase.”

Wade has powered up to second in the table with three successive victories, following up wins over van Barneveld and Taylor with a narrow 8-6 defeat of Jelle Klaasen last week.

“I didn’t play as well as I can but I got the result and that’s good enough for me,” said Wade.

“I hit some big finishes at the right time and I always do that when I’m not playing well. I’ve got to start showing a bit of confidence now.”

He meets Terry Jenkins in Manchester, having defeated the Ledbury star to claim major titles at the Stan James World Matchplay and SkyBet World Grand Prix in 2007.

“He’s a grinder and it will be a good game,” said Wade. “We’ve had some great battles before and he can do anything when he plays you.

“He’ll probably go up there and average 100 against me but I’m confident I will average 100 against him.”

Taylor takes on Wayne Mardle in the night’s third game, as he looks to get his first win since week two, having picked up two draws and a defeat in the last three matches.

“I’ve had three tough matches in recent weeks and I’m not expecting anything different against Wayne because he’s had a good start,” said Taylor.

“I need to get back winning to keep up the pressure on Mervyn King and James Wade and I’m confident I can do that on Thursday.”

Mardle lost 8-0 and 8-1 to Taylor in last year’s Premier League, and added: “He seems to save something special for when he plays me!

“I’ve been playing well so far, though, and I know if I get chances against Phil I have to take them because he punishes every mistake you make.”

Jelle Klaasen meets John Part in the night’s other game, with the young Dutchman having lost all four games since drawing with Terry Jenkins on the opening night in Liverpool.

“It’s a very important game,” said Klaasen. “If I want to have a chance of making the semi-finals I have to win this game and the next game against Raymond.

“If I beat John and Raymond I will be on five points and anything’s possible, but if I lose against John it will be very difficult.

“I’m starting to play better and better but I’ve had problems with my doubles and I’ll have to hit them against John.”

A limited number of tickets for the M.E.N. Arena remain on sale from the venue’s Box Office or via 0844 847 8000.

Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts

Week Six – M.E.N. Arena, Manchester

Raymond van Barneveld v Mervyn King

Jelle Klaasen v John Part

Terry Jenkins v James Wade

Phil Taylor v Wayne Mardle

Live on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports HD1 from 7pm Match Odds

Raymond van Barneveld Evs, Mervyn King 8/5, Draw 4/1

Jelle Klaasen 7/5, John Part 5/4, Draw 7/2

Terry Jenkins 23/10, James Wade 4/6, Draw 9/2

Phil Taylor 1/8, Wayne Mardle 12/1, Draw 7/1

Boylesports are the official betting partner of the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts

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