Nathan Aspinall avoided becoming the latest high-profile star to crash out of the innovative PDC Home Tour on Sunday, although the former UK Open champion was forced to play through the pain barrier having sustained an ankle ligament injury prior to yesterday’s action.
The Premier League debutant featured in ‘Darts at Home’ prior to the launch of the Home Tour and having triumphed on that occasion, the Stockport star repeated the feat – gaining maximum points from his tussles against Steve Brown, Ryan Joyce and Simon Stevenson.
However, speaking to Dan Dawson before last night’s proceedings got underway, the world number seven revealed that he sustained the injury whilst going for a 3km run in a bid to maintain his fitness amid the current lockdown restrictions.
“The first day [of running] went really well. I did 3k,” said Aspinall. “The second day, I did the same again. I woke up the day after, my ankles were an absolute mess. I tore ligaments in both my ankles. Needless to say, I’m back on the takeaways and I’m not running anymore!
“The last couple of days, I’ve barely been able to walk. I’ve not played for a couple of days. But I’m missing the darts. I thought ‘it’s only a few hours, I can bear the pain for a few hours and hopefully play some good stuff’.”
The pain certainly didn’t affect Aspinall’s performance, as he dropped just five legs over the course of the evening en route to topping Group Ten. ‘The Asp’ had seen fellow Premier League stars Peter Wright, Gerwyn Price and Michael Smith crash out earlier in the event, but he avoided a similar fate.
The 28-year-old opened his campaign with a comfortable 5-2 success against Brown, averaging 91.40, posting four maximums and taking out a delightful 148 checkout in the very first leg.
Aspinall produced the performance of the night to register his second 5-2 win of the evening against Ryan Joyce – averaging 98.50 and landing three maximums, before seeing off an abject Simon Stevenson 5-1 in his third and final clash.
The US Darts Masters champion is the first top ten star to advance to the last 32 stage and is subsequently one of the favourites to claim the title, with Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Daryl Gurney not expected to compete.
Image: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
PDC Home Tour – Group Winners:
Group One: Jamie Lewis
Group Two: Luke Woodhouse
Group Three: Dave Chisnall
Group Four: Geert Nentjes
Group Five: Nick Kenny
Group Six: Ryan Searle
Group Seven: Jelle Klaasen
Group Eight: Jonny Clayton
Group Nine: Martijn Kleermaker
Group Ten: Nathan Aspinall