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Taylor’s return to European Tour on hold following withdrawal

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PICTURE: LAWRENCE LUSTIG/PDC

Phil Taylor’s return to the PDC European Tour has been put on hold after he withdrew from this weekend’s HappyBet European Darts Matchplay.

The 16-time world champion’s last appearance on the European Tour was back in June 2014, when he lost 6-4 to Michael Smith in the last 32 of the Gibraltar Trophy.

Taylor was set to make his long-awaited return today in Hamburg as one of the 16 UK qualifiers for the European Matchplay in action in the first round.

However, his name was absent from the draw for the £115,000 tournament, released yesterday on the PDC website.

Taylor’s absence will boost the chances of Michael van Gerwen continuing his winning form on this year’s European Tour.

The world number one has won all three events on the tour so far in 2016 and will be eager to add to his collection at the Inselparkhalle on Sunday night.

Van Gerwen beat Dave Chisnall 6-4 to win the inaugural European Matchplay last year and begins the defence of his title against Remco van Eijden or Andrew Gilding in the last 32 tomorrow evening.

Second seed Peter Wright will play the winner of Darren Webster versus Jonathan Worsley, while third seed Michael Smith goes up against either Michel van der Horst or Rowby-John Rodriguez.

Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis will be looking for good runs in Hamburg before they travel to London for the Betway Premier League play-offs next Thursday, while emerging youngsters Josh Payne, Chris Dobey and Max Hopp are all in first round action today.

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