Simon Cowell has given One Direction fans further cause for wailing and gnashing of teeth by speculating that they boyband might split up soon.

In an interview with The Sun yesterday, Cowell - the pop phenomenon's record label boss - said that he expected the foursome to call it quits soon - at least temporarily.

"In terms of the band, they've got enough hits now they can take some time off and do some other stuff they want to do," he said. "Then I hope they'll have a little bit of time apart and want to get back together again. It's a fun job, but it's absolutely their decision."

In the same interview, Cowell also spoke about Louis Tomlinson's impending fatherhood. "I said to him, 'You man up. You're fortunate because you're in a position to be able to look after the baby and not worry too much about that. But I also told him, 'I've received bad calls in my life but this is not one of them. This is your business but I'm here for you'."

He added: "He didn't kill anyone. He got someone pregnant. It happens every day all over the world. Again, Louis has got great family around him and, look, it's a plus, not a negative."

One Direction play two nights at Dublin's 3Arena this October.