Geordie darts ace Chris Dobey is targeting world championship glory following a pre-tournament visit to his beloved Newcastle United.

Dobey, who heads into the 2020 world darts championship as one of the dark horses, took some time out of his preparation last week by paying a visit to the Magpies' Benton training base.

A lifelong Newcastle fan, Dobey walked out to Mark Knopfler's 'Local Hero' during a wildcard appearance in the Newcastle leg of the Premier League earlier this year.

He was even offered the chance to watch Steve Bruce's side train by captain Jamaal Lascelles, but parental commitments put paid to that!

Now, he is hoping to use that experience as inspiration for a title tilt at Alexandra Palace this year, ahead of his first round clash on Thursday evening.

"I had an interview with the club, a few photo shots and I was taken around the training ground," Dobey explained to Chronicle Live.

"I met a few of the players which was a big thing for me being a big Newcastle fan so it was nice to do something different.

"I met Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark, Christian Atsu, Sean Longstaff, Yoshinori Muto and as I was leaving Jetro Willems and Steve Bruce were coming in.

"Lascelles asked if I wanted to watch the training session but I had to get back home to the little one!"

He continued: "I am very confident. I am playing some good stuff. I am hoping I can keep up the consistency I have shown this year and I know I can go a long way.

"There are already a few big names that have been knocked out but I have got to keep myself right and don't become another one of the seeded players to be knocked out.

"There are no mugs in the world championship. Everybody is there for a reason and they are all capable of winning games. I am not going to take it any differently this year.

"My mindset is always to go up there, play my game, and hopefully that is enough to take me through to the next round."

It is little wonder 'Hollywood's' confidence is sky high. In the last three months, Dobey has reached two major semi-finals losing out to world number one Michael van Gerwen in the World Grand Prix, and arguably the world's most in-form player in Gerwyn Price at the recent Players Championships.

It means heading into the world championships, Dobey has genuine optimism he can go all the way. He insists he isn't looking past first round opponent Ron Meulenkamp but to even reach the semi-finals he will have to come through a quarter of the draw that includes two-time major champion Daryl Gurney, Austrian ace Mensur Suljovic, three-time BDO world champion Glen Durrant and the aforementioned Price.

But the prospect of facing Teesside ace Durrant and the in-form Price does not faze the 29-year-old.

Three-time BDO world champion Glen Durrant
Three-time BDO world champion Glen Durrant

"You have got to go into every tournament thinking you can win it but you can't also look past your first game," he added.

"I feel confident I can go a long way but you can't look past your first opponent.

"The big names don't faze me. I play better against the bigger players so that is part of my game. I bring my best performances out against the top seeds.

"I would love to play Glen on the big stage with it being a north-east rivalry. We are good mates as well. That would be nice to play him up there.

"Gerywn hasn't had the best of times at Ally Pally but he is arguably heading into this competition as the best player in the world at the minute. Who would rule out some revenge from the players championships? I would love to do so."

Gerwyn Price celebrates his semi final victory over Chris Dobey at the Players Championship
Gerwyn Price celebrates his semi final victory over Chris Dobey at the Players Championship

Dobey enjoyed a run to the last 16 of the world championship last year beating Boris Koltsov, Steve Beaton and Vincent van der Voort en route to a clash with two-time world champion Gary Anderson.

In a see-saw game, Anderson emerged a 4-3 winner in an Alexandra Palace classic. It was a bruising defeat for the Northumberland ace but he has used that experience to kick on in 2019.

And knowing he has produced on the Alexandra Palace stage in the past is a big psychological boost heading into his fourth World Championship.

"It helps, without a doubt," Dobey said of his previous experience at the world championship

"It was up there with one of my best performances on TV that I have produced. It was hard to take afterwards to miss chances to beat Gary but I have learnt a lot from that game.

"I have been hinting at progressing for a while now but it has just been taking it that little step further. I would say the defeat to Gary has helped me this season.

Chris Dobey

"Being in the world championships is always about learning and I learnt a lot from that game. It has made me progress this year and I am hoping I can take the next step further again.

"I want to better last year. I would still be disappointed going out in the quarter-finals because you want to win it. But if I play well like last year and lose then that is far-dos, but I want to win it."

*********

Dobey isn't the only North East player opening his campaign on Monday. Ryan Joyce returns to Alexandra Palace having reached the quarter-finals last year.

'Relentless' stunned former major champions Simon Whitlock and James Wade en route to reaching the last eight - where he was beaten by three-time world champion Michael van Gerwen - but admits the pressure and his mentality going into this year's tournament is a lot different to his debut year.

"I am looking forward to it this year," he told Chronicle Live.

"I didn't expect to go that far last year but I got a bit of luck along the way.

"The pressure changes, the mentality does. I know what it is like inside there and I have more experience this time. I will feel less nervous this year but whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, we will soon find out.

"I have worked harder this year and I feel like I am playing a little bit better. I have got my averages going in the right direction and I feel I am more of a threat to the bigger players this year.

"Whether that translates to the stage depends on the day."

Ryan Joyce reached the quarter-finals last year
Ryan Joyce reached the quarter-finals last year

Joyce is second game on in the afternoon session against former BDO world championship semi-finalist Jan Dekker, with the winner pencilled in to face number 16 seed Jonny Clayton in round two on Friday.

"I have never played Jan Dekker before so I am not sure what to expect from that game," Joyce added.

"I have got a chance of going on another good run. There is a brick wall called Michael van Gerwen in the last 16 if I get there but stranger things have happened.

"When you get past van Gerwen and Price, I feel like everybody can beat anybody else in the tournament this year.

"These tournaments are massive for the rankings. A bad world championships can cost you your tour card in a year or two."

*********

Meanwhile, young Geordie ace Callan Rydz is also in action on Thursday.

Callan Rydz celebrates victory over Steve Lennon in round one
Callan Rydz celebrates victory over Steve Lennon in round one

The 21-year-old enjoyed a dream debut on Monday evening when he beat World Cup finalist Stephen Lennon 3-2 in round one.

Rydz takes on 31st seed Danny Noppert directly after Dobey's match on Thursday evening, for the right to face Kim Huybrechts in round three on Sunday.