Premier League darts is set to keep its 'Contenders' for 2020, according to PDC chairman Barry Hearn.

Last year Gary Anderson withdrew from the competition due to injury and was replaced by a different player for each of the first nine nights.

Steve Lennon, from Carlow, played at the 3Arena in Dublin, while Scot John Henderson was the guest when Aberdeen hosted the event.

Hearn has hinted that he was in favour of the concept but told RTÉ Sport that it's almost certain to be retained with an official announcement coming after the final of the World Championship on 1 January.

"I think the Contenders idea worked really well for the Premier League," he said.

"It's got to be decided finally but I can see that continuing."

The Premier League returns to Dublin on 27 February for Night Four.

Fallon Sherrock could be a possible Contender following her sensational run at Alexandra Palace and has already been confirmed for the World Series of Darts in New York in June.

Speaking after the 25-year-old's first-round win over Ted Evetts and before her subsequent victory over world number 11 Mensur Suljovic, Hearn said: "Fallon's victory has become mainstream news, rather than sports news.

"Fallon will get the dream ticket in terms of an invitation to the World Series of Darts in the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

"That's going to be massive news around the world, particularly in America, and the message is clear to other women; if you're good enough, opportunities exist or will be created.

"She's going to have a dream scenario there and who knows where it builds from there."

For the second year in a row, Ireland had a record number of participants in the sport's showpiece tournament.

That was in addition to the Republic of Ireland team of Lennon and Willie O'Connor reaching the World Cup final .

No fewer than eight players from the island of Ireland were involved with Derry's Daryl Gurney the last man standing – he plays BDO champ Glen Durrant when the action resumes on Friday.

"It's a great achievement and they can all play; they are here because they are good players," Hearn said.

"I was talking to [Limerick's] Willie O'Connor, he's only been a full-time player for about two months.

"Now I don't know if he's going to get massively better or stay the same but he has a chance to really improve and he's already a good player.

"He's an example of how darts can change someone's life, if they are good enough and if they put the work in and sacrifice themselves.

"I think Ireland was a little bit slow on the sacrificial side, in terms of a lot of social players, typical Irish, enjoyed the craic of the darts but there's a serious side to it as well.

"Do you want to be world champion? Do you want to be a top professional in a professional sport? It's not a social sport anymore.

"At the top end it's thoroughly professional, same as golf or anything else.

"We are seeing some quality come through from around the world...so it's only natural that Ireland should pick up that gauntlet and hence you have a record number of entrants to this year's championship."

Friday December 27
Afternoon Session (1230)
3x Third Round

Simon Whitlock v Mervyn King
Daryl Gurney v Glen Durrant
Fallon Sherrock v Chris Dobey

Evening Session (1900)
1x Third Round, 2x Fourth Round

Gerwyn Price v John Henderson
Gary Anderson v Nathan Aspinall
Michael van Gerwen v Stephen Bunting