Darting elite descend on Sheffield this Thursday
Phil Taylor is expecting reigning Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts champion James Wade to hit top form when they clash at Sheffield Arena on Thursday night.
Wade has yet to find the form which saw him pick up the £125,000 title last year, but after losing his opening three games he has moved to the brink of the play-off places with two wins from his last three.
The left-hander has also defeated Taylor twice in the Premier League previously, and the 15-time World Champion believes Wade is returning to his best at the right time of the season.
"James hasn't clicked yet this season but when he's under pressure he does the business," said Taylor.
"It's getting down to the nitty gritty now and I think that's when we'll see the best of James.
"He's a really good player, one of the best in the game, but him and Adrian Lewis are untapped talents in many ways at the moment; their time will come eventually and they're doing very well so far."
Taylor is unbeaten after nine of the 14 weekly rounds, and comfortably defeated Wade 8-2 when they met in Belfast back in February.
"People talk about how Phil is playing and to his credit he keeps doing it, week-in, week-out and year-in, year-out," said Wade. "He'll be ready, but I'll be prepared for him.
"I believe, deep down, he knows that I'm going to perform against him.
"Things are turning round for me and hopefully I will perform to the best of my ability against Phil, because there's no reason why I shouldn't."
The night may prove crucial for the Premier League's other play-off contenders, with Simon Whitlock and Adrian Lewis - placed fourth and fifth respectively - taking on the bottom two, Raymond van Barneveld and Terry Jenkins.
Whitlock overcame van Barneveld in the Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship semi-finals, and hit eight out of nine attempts at a double in defeating the Dutchman 8-5 earlier in the Premier League.
"I've beaten him the last two times we've played but he's a dangerous opponent," said Whitlock.
"He can do anything on the night and even though I'm going into it confident, I'll be wary that he can produce something special.
"He's been struggling a little bit this season with his darts, changing a few things, and he's going through an experimental stage. I've been doing a bit of the same but I think I'm a bit more confident than him at the moment."
Lewis, meanwhile, is hoping to follow up wins over Wade and van Barneveld in the past fortnight with another two points when he meets Jenkins.
"The last time I played Terry, in Belfast, he took out pretty much every chance he had and he won 8-6," he said.
"You expect that to happen in this game now, and I've been doing it myself for the last few weeks."
"I believe I can do to other players and I'll be looking to show that against Terry."
The evening's other game sees the two players tied on ten points in joint second place, Mervyn King and Ronnie Baxter, clash in Sheffield.
Baxter took an 8-6 victory in their previous Premier League meeting, checking out 164 in the deciding leg of their contest in Belfast.