Andy Jenkins is eager to make up for lost time and admitted: It’s great to be back on the big stage.
The Cosham-based darts star faces world number nine Justin Pipe at Alexandra Palace tomorrow night in the first round of the PDC World Championship.
But after failing to appear at the event for the past two years, Jenkins – a semi-finalist in 2007 – has shown he is on the way back from the combination of disciplinary trouble, injuries and a dreadful run of form that saw him slide way down the rankings.
Jenkins explained: ‘It’s great to get back there. It’s been a long old road back.
‘I broke my hand at the beginning of the year and missed four months but then I got in through the last automatic qualifying place.
‘It was brilliant when I realised I didn’t have to try to go through the qualifiers and knew I was straight into the first round.
‘I missed out last year and the year before, and to actually get back there was my main objective. But now I’m there, I want to go further.
‘I won’t say I can win it because I think the other players are too strong at the minute.
‘But if everything went my way, you never know.
‘I know I’d snap your hand off if you offered me the quarter-finals, though.
‘We’ll see what happens. Back in 2007, I just got on a roll and things went from there.’
It’s an ambitious target for Jenkins, especially as he is the big underdog in his first-round match-up. But he does have a bit of history on his side, having beaten his opponent twice already this season.
Jenkins said: ‘I’ve beaten Justin twice this year but he’s the world number nine, so he’s the big favourite and has risen up the rankings quickly.
‘It doesn’t bother me that he will be the favourite. I’ve got experience on my side.
‘My form is pretty good. I’ve had some good scrapes with some top players this year.
‘So it’s all going a bit better. I’m going up in the rankings rather than down and I’m winning some games I shouldn’t.’
While some reckon there are several potential champions this year, Jenkins believes Phil Taylor still remains the man to beat.
He said: ‘It’s always hard to look too far beyond Phil Taylor.
‘But Michael van Gerwen, Simon Whitlock and Raymond van Barneveld could all be in with a shout.’