James Wade has been called up as a late replacement for Gerwyn Price in the 2021 Premier League Darts, after the world number one returned a positive coronavirus test and pulled out of the tournament.
World champion Price, who was hoping to win the tournament for the first time, tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday ahead of the 17-night tournament at the Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes.
The 36-year-old has been removed from the prestigious event and replaced by 2009 winner Wade, who was at the venue on stand-by and will now face Gary Anderson in Easter Monday’s opening fixtures, which get under way at 19:00.
A tweet from PDC Darts said: “All players and officials involved in the Unibet Premier League were tested on arrival in Milton Keynes on Sunday ahead of the 17-night tournament.
“World champion Price returned a positive result, and as such will now return home to enter a period of self-isolation.”
Scotland’s Anderson has won six of the last seven meetings against the Machine, including their last Premier League clash in 2017, and he is 7/5 to notch another victory, while a draw is priced at 11/4 and a Wade triumph is 8/5.
The opening five Premier League nights are to be held from April 5-9 before the action, which is behind closed doors, continues from April 19-22 as the 10 players meet once in the first half of the season.
Monday’s action kicks off with a repeat of the 2020 final between Nathan Aspinall and defending champion Glen Durrant, who edged out his English foe 11-8 to lift the trophy for the first time last year (Match odds – Aspinall Evs, Draw 3/1, Durrant 21/10).
2018 world champion Rob Cross, who will take on Wade on Tuesday evening, gets his tournament started with a clash against 2020 Grand Slam of Darts winner Jose De Sousa, before Peter Wright faces newcomer Jonny Clayton.
The final match of the evening pits five-time Premier League champion Michael van Gerwen against debutant Dimitri Van den Bergh (Match odds – Van Gerwen 8/11, Draw 18/5, Van den Bergh 13/5).
Source: Darts – Betfred