Rumours have been rife this morning that Louis Walsh has signed a contract with X Factor for the new series, and while nothing has been confirmed yet from the show itself, sources have been saying that the Mayo man is set to make his return as a judge alongside Nicole Scherzinger.

Louis was axed from the show last year after ten years in the job to make room for more fresh meat like Nick Grimshaw and Rita Ora, but considering how much last series bombed in the ratings, it looks like Cowell is eager to return to a tried and tested formula.

An insider told the Daily Star Sunday: "Simon wants to know he is in safe hands this year after last year’s disaster. He wants everything to run smoothly. In his eyes that means a tried and tested panel rather than going for a big name who could be a risk. He knows that Sharon, Louis [Walsh] and Nicole all work well. They offer the right balance of star quality, fun and personality."

Yesterday brought the news that Rita Ora would not be returning to the upcoming series, with a source telling the Daily Mail; "Rita had been in discussions [to return] but it became apparent she was no longer the automatic top option.

"Nicole Scherzinger was a huge success whens she was on the X Factor a few years ago and has long been part of the X Factor family. She provided fun and entertainment and a huge personality to the show. She is the definite favourite to get the seat next to Simon."

As the source says, Sharon Osbourne is also in the running to return but given her recent marriage trouble with Ozzy, she may not be so keen to make a come back.

Sharon was a judge on the show from 2004 to 2007 and returned for one season in 2013, while Nicole worked on the show in 2012 and also 2013.

Louis Walsh then was of course part of the furniture and given how fond he is of a bit of gossip, we reckon there's no smoke without fire when it comes to this rumour of him signing a contract.

We have contacted X Factor press office for further confirmation so will keep you updated.

Update** X Factor press office have replied to with the following; "Discussions regarding this year's panel are still ongoing and details are yet to be confirmed."

Via Daily Express.