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2009 champion James Wade kicks off proceedings for this year’s McCoy’s Premier League when he faces Andy Hamilton in the opening game at the Manchester Evening News Arena.

Wade narrowly missed out on a place in the play-offs last year but came back strongly by winning his second UK Open title and reaching the semi-finals of the World Championship.

Photo - LAWRENCE LUSTIG/PDC

‘The Machine’, who is ranked third in the PDC Order of Merit, has been a consistently good performer in the competition and will hope to begin his 2012 campaign with victory over Premier League new boy Hamilton.

Following that clash is a match between two players fresh from good showings at the World Cup of Darts last weekend. Simon Whitlock takes on Raymond van Barneveld in a repeat of the semi-final in Hamburg, in which the Australian came out on top.

‘Barney’ has been a regular fixture in the Premier League. He has made five semi-final appearances in six years and he is confident that he is recovering from a recent loss of form at just the right time.

He said: “I feel fantastic at the moment and I’m over the moon to have been selected to play in the Premier League again. I’m working hard and playing quite well, my scoring has been good. I believe that within a couple of weeks, the old ‘Barney’ will be back.

“Some people may have written me off after the World Championship, but I believe in my own ability. Trust me, it’s still there, it hasn’t gone and I will make the ‘Barney Army’ proud of me again.”

Both players were selected as wildcards to return to this year’s competition and Whitlock is excited to be back on the big stage.

He said: “I’m delighted to have been selected to play in the Premier League again. It means everything to me and I’m really looking forward to the season. I think I can do really well this year.”

World Cup winners Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis go from teammates to rivals in the final match of this evening. That is after defending champion Gary Anderson takes on tournament debutant Kevin Painter.

MODUS darts.tv will provide updates and reports for all matches involving MODUS players.

Andy Hamilton v James Wade (game one)
Simon Whitlock v Raymond van Barneveld (game two)

By Chris Murphy

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