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Luke Littler hits back after Michael van Gerwen sends brutal warning to teenager ahead of Premier League debut

Luke Littler hits back after Michael van Gerwen sends brutal warning to teenager ahead of Premier League debut

Three-time world champion Michael van Gerwen will come up against Luke Littler in the Premier League.

Luke Littler has taken Michael van Gerwen's "big boys league" warning with a pinch of salt ahead of his much-anticipated Premier League Darts debut on Thursday.

The 17-year-old will come up against world number one Luke Humphries on the opening night of the Premier League – a repeat of last month's World Championship final.

He will also face Michael Smith, Nathan Aspinall, Gerwyn Price, Peter Wright, Rob Cross and Michael van Gerwen, who has warned Littler there will be "no mercy" for him throughout the 17-week tournament.

“He’s had a fabulous last two months – but it’s only two months, yeah? He needs to do it for a very long time,” Van Gerwen said before his opener against Michael Smith.

“He's got everything to be a top 10 player in the next 20 years, but you still have to do it. He is still young.”

Van Gerwen, who recorded a win over Littler in the Dutch Darts Masters final, just weeks after the teenager beat him in Bahrain, was then asked if he felt protective of the teenager.

“Really? Of course not," he replied. "Welcome to the big boys.‌ He is not a youth player any more. Those days are gone. Of course, he’s still only a kid, but now you have got to battle against each other on the stage and there cannot be any mercy whatsoever.

“It’s not hard at the moment because he doesn’t have any scars. Whatever he does, being a runner-up is good, winning is good. Whatever he does, whatever he says, everybody loves everything about him. But during a game, if he looks at his watch and says, ‘How can I miss again?’, in five years’ time they will boo you. That’s the way darts works now.

“At the beginning everything goes well, but then everything gets normal. Guys like him only get born once in so many years and he’s a special talent, of course, but he still has to do it every year. He is with the big guys now.”

Later on, Littler was asked about Van Gerwen's comments during his pre-tournament media duties.

“Big boys' league? Surely I am one of them now," he smiled. "I have joined them in the big boys' League. This is what I have signed up for – to play with the best of the best. I am looking forward to playing these boys week-in, week-out.”

The Utilita Arena in Cardiff will host the opening night of this year's Premier League, with play getting underway at 7pm.

Here are the fixtures in full:

Peter Wright vs Rob Cross

Gerwyn Price vs Nathan Aspinall

Michael van Gerwyn vs Michael Smith

Luke Littler vs Luke Humphries

Featured Image Credit: YouTube/Online Darts - Getty Images

Topics: Luke Littler, Darts