Two-time winner Gary Anderson has been forced to withdraw from the upcoming Premier League campaign due to ongoing back problems.
The Scotsman took the title in both 2011 and 2015, defeating Adrian Lewis and Michael van Gerwen respectively.
It would risk long-term damage if I was to do anything other than rest and undergo treatment at the moment.Gary Anderson
A statement from Anderson confirmed: "I'm sorry to the fans that I won't be there this year, I'm as gutted as anybody to have to miss out.
"I've really tried to get myself right for the Premier League, but it just hasn't been physically possible because I'm in such pain when I even try and have a little practice.
"It would risk long-term damage if I was to do anything other than rest and undergo treatment at the moment.
"My physio has advised me to rest for a few weeks to increase my chances of coming back stronger for the rest of the year and reduce the likelihood of me suffering repeated problems."
The PDC have decided to hand opportunities to nine different players to replace the stricken Anderson, including current BDO world champions Glen Durrant, who recently earned a PDC Tour card.
The other eight players who will be involved are Nathan Aspinall, Luke Humphries, Chris Dobey, Max Hopp, John Henderson, Steve Lennon, Jeffrey de Zwaan and Dimitri Van den Bergh.
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