It looks like BOTH ladies are after a spot on the panel

Cheryl Cole and Nicole Scherzinger have faced a lot of speculation over the past few months, after it was reported that both ladies are keen for a spot on The X Factor judging panel next year.

But with only one chair left open – as Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osborne have all reportedly signed up for 2018 – we’ve been left guessing who’ll be joining them on the show.

Former Pussycat Doll Nicole previously hinted this might be her last year as she heads back to the studio after three years away from music, admitting: ‘If I don’t come back it’s not because I don’t love it.’

Before adding: ‘It’s because I’m a singer first. Every artist needs that time out to reflect.’

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And since then, fans have been convinced Chezza is going to replace her, especially after the Girls Aloud star impressed viewers when she returned to help Simon out at Judges Houses.

Cheryl Cole impressed viewers during her cameo [Photo by Dymond/Thames/Syco/REX/Shutterstock]

Well, now 39-year-old Nicole has thrown a spanner in the works as she recently backtracked and confessed she’s ALSO keen to return – meaning the pair could be taking part in their very own Six Chair Challenge in a battle to secure a permanent spot.

MORE: Cheryl Cole admits regret at missing Pride of Britain Awards with Liam Payne as she shares touching memory

According to the Daily Star, Nicole admitted on the Jonathan Ross show: ‘I would love to come back if you would have me.

‘Simon… they have asked me back so hopefully everything will work out.’

Nicole is keen to defend her judging role [Photo by Dymond/Thames/Syco/REX/Shutterstock]

Nicole’s confession comes after it was rumoured that 34-year-old Chez – who welcomed son Bear with Liam Payne in March – is on the verge of signing a mega-money deal to join the show again.

After the mum-of-one bowed out back in 2015, a source told The Sun: ‘It looks like Cheryl will be back next year. Simon knows Nicole is likely to leave and he wants a big name, and some much-needed glamour on the panel.

‘He knows he will get that with Cheryl and she would be a really popular signing and a huge hit.’

And Chez’s boyfriend, Liam has also been talking about his other half making her big comeback, as he previously revealed: ‘Cheryl and Simon spoke about her going back next year.

‘Obviously Simon is desperate to get her back’.

Cheryl and Liam

Hmmm… Despite the ladies both seemingly going after the same job, an insider previously told us at Now that Nicole would be happy to step aside if Simon were to ask Cheryl back.

‘At the end of the day, Nicole doesn’t feel she has anything to prove,’ our source said.

‘She and Cheryl are very different people and Nicole is already considering taking a break from The X Factor next year to release a new album.’

‘If she does, there will be a space on the panel and Nicole wouldn’t care if Simon filled it with Cheryl or Sinitta!’

We guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens next year…