Big John Henderson admits it’s a “dream come true” to be making his Unibet Premier League debut on home soil.
The Huntly hero will be roared on by 4,000 passionate fans at the BHGE Arena in Aberdeen tonight as he faces formidable World No.1 Michael van Gerwen.
But Hendo, who beat MVG in the World Grand Prix two years ago, is not worried about taking on the best player on the planet.
He said: “I’m playing against the best player in the world, so I’ve got nothing to lose and I’m going to go up there and enjoy it.
“Although I beat Michael in the World Grand Prix a couple of years ago, I know that was in a completely different environment and it won’t count for anything on Thursday.
“I must admit it was a great surprise when I got the call to play in the Premier League, but it’s always been a dream of mine since joining the PDC.
“I think my form has come on quite a bit since the Worlds, I’ve got the confidence now and I’ve had a good start to the ProTour season so I can hopefully take that form into Thursday.”
Current league leader Van Gerwen will be hoping to avoid back-to-back Premier League defeats for what would be just the second time since his 2013 debut campaign.
He suffered a shock 7-3 reverse to James Wade in Exeter on Night Four to end his winning start to the campaign, before crashing out of the UK Open at the first hurdle to Mervyn King the following day.
MVG said: “I didn’t perform to my best in the last two matches but fair play to James Wade and Mervyn King, they played good games to beat me.
“Those games are gone now and I have to focus 100 per cent on the next game against John Henderson, who is a player I have a lot of respect for and I know he’ll be up for it in front of the amazing Scottish fans.
“Any match or tournament I don’t win is a bad one for me but that doesn’t say anything for the next match – the same as it wouldn’t say anything if I had won the UK Open.
“Everybody can see from the table for the last six years that I am the most feared opponent for the other players and I know that if I play my best, I win. It is simple as that.”
In-form Welshman Gerwyn Price is the only player yet to taste defeat in this year’s competition, and he will be looking to preserve his unbeaten record against Mensur Suljovic.
Departing Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld will make his final Premier League appearance in Aberdeen as he looks to move off the foot of the table with victory against Scotland’s Peter Wright.
The opening clash of the night will see former World Champion Rob Cross meet World Championship and Premier League finalist Michael Smith in a repeat of Sunday’s UK Open semi-final, which saw Cross come out on top 11-7.
Second-placed James Wade could go top with victory over Daryl Gurney.
By Phil Lanning (@lannomedia)