Simon Cowell has thanked supporters of The X Factor hopeful Shirlena Johnson, who was axed from the show this week amid fears for her well-being.

The single mum, from East London, made an impact on last Saturday’s show with her eccentric performance of Duffy‘s Mercy – but was axed later in the week after concerns were raised over her mental health.

However Simon told The Sun that he loved the eccentric singer and that it had been a “tough call” taking her off the show.

And he thanked the thousands of fans who had contacted him urging for her to be allowed back on the show.

“Thank you so much to all of your for your support of Shirlena,” he said.

“It means a lot to her and I feel the same as many of you. I’m very fond of her and she shouldn’t give up performing.”

But he added that as much as he would love her back on the show he has to accept the expert advice that the 30-year-old would be unable to cope with the pressure of being in the limelight.

“At the moment it seems our hands are tied and I’m very upset for her,” he admitted. “I really wish we could do something to change things. I know she wants to make a better life for herself.

“I don’t want this to be the end of Shirlena and The X Factor but we can’t find the solution at the moment because of the advice we are being given.

A source close to Simon added, “He really adores Shirlena and is upset this has happened. He’d love to find a way to bring her back but for now there seems to be no U-turn.

“Shirlena’s best interests are at heart in making this decision. No-one wants to take a risk for her and her family.”