Speculation mounted today over Cheryl Cole’s future after her American dream appeared to be over just weeks after it began.
The 27-year-old is said to have been dropped from the US version of The X Factor, with her place as a judge likely to be taken by ex-Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger.
She is now understood to be back in the UK, but questions remain over what her next career move will be.
According to reports, X Factor bosses are keen for the Girls Aloud singer to return to the judging panel of the British version of the show, where she proved a hit with viewers for three series.
An ITV insider told the Daily Mail: “Of course we would be glad to have her back. She is Cheryl Cole.”
With filming due to begin next Wednesday, a decision will need to be made quickly, but some sources claim her treatment in the US has left her angry with show boss Simon Cowell.
According to the Mirror, Cole said she had been “hung out to dry”, with a friend adding: “She’s so upset she’s not even sure she wants to do the UK version.”
A friend told the Sun she was “completely shocked and stunned” and had not seen the move coming.
“The fact that Simon didn’t tell her in person hurt. She never thought he would do that to her,” the source added.
However, sources close to Cowell told the newspaper that he had spoken to Cole in person to discuss concerns by bosses at TV network Fox that she was not connecting with American viewers.
Celebrity website TMZ said Cole was dropped from the judging panel because producers feared the American audience would not understand her Geordie accent.
There were also concerns Cole, whose place on the show was only confirmed on May 5, had a “lack of chemistry” with fellow X Factor judge Paula Abdul, the US website said.
Representatives of Cole's and the show’s production team and broadcaster ITV have so far declined to comment.
The news will be seen as a blow for Cowell who lobbied US television executives on Cole’s behalf.
The X Factor supremo has previously said he showed a video clip of Cole to Fox bosses two years ago in a bid to persuade them to bring her on board.
Scherzinger, 32, was originally due to host the US X Factor alongside Welsh ex-T4 presenter Steve Jones.
Dannii Minogue, who was recently dropped as a judge on the UK show, told Twitter followers: “Judging roles should come with a life jacket, drop down oxygen and a life raft!”
Designer Julien Macdonald said Cole had told him a few days ago she was “having the time of her life” in the United States.
Speaking on the ITV1 show Lorraine, he said he thought the announcement was a publicity stunt.
He said: “Well, I was speaking to Cheryl a few days ago, and when I spoke to her from America she was really happy, she was having the time of her life. So I think it’s a bit of a media blah to get press for the X Factor.”
The singer had previously laughed off concerns Americans would not understand her accent, saying: “I’ve been here a lot, I’ve got a lot of American friends and we have the odd moments where they’re like, ’What? What did that mean?’ - you know, a phrase.
“But I think that it’s going to be something that people get used to. And I’m proud of my accent.”
Meanwhile, former X Factor contestants JLS have expressed their support for the singer.
The band’s Marvin Humes said: “It’s quite disappointing, obviously. Cheryl is an incredibly strong woman – she has been through a lot – and I think she will bounce back from this – no problem.”
Speaking at the premiere of 3D film Eyes Wide Shut, he added: “You have to draw good from the bad, and Cheryl will obviously be disappointed, but when one door closes, another one opens.
“She will be welcomed home with open arms, and everyone wants to see her return to the UK version of the show. It would be amazing,” he said.
The British judging line-up is yet to be announced, but Louis Walsh is expected to be joined by Take That’s Gary Barlow, American pop star Kelly Rowland and Tulisa Contostavlos of N-Dubz.