Mel B is unwell and will be replaced on The X Factor final by Tulisa Contostavlos

Italian Andrea Faustini will face his X Factor final battle against Ben Haenow and bookies’ favourite to win, Fleur East, without his mentor Mel B, who is ill and is being replaced by Tulisa Contostavlos.

Mel, 39, was absent from an X Factor press conference on Thursday.

She has been a judge on this series alongside the show’s creator Simon Cowell, Cheryl and show veteran Louis Walsh.

Meanwhile, a pair of songs which have failed to make the UK top 40 have been lined up for winner’s singles.

Andrea will release a cover of the late Whitney Houston’s song “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength, while Ben and Fleaur have recorded a version of the OneRepublic track “Something I Need” if either of them win.

The tracks are both by artists signed to labels which are part of Sony Music, the company which signs up the winning acts from the show.

It is also the parent firm for releases by producer Mark Ronson, who received an unexpected boost from the show after his unreleased track, “Uptown Funk”, was performed by Fleur during the semi-finals. He has gone on to rush release the track which is now expected to go to number one this weekend.

Bookmaker William Hill has put Fleur at 4-11 to win the final, ahead of Ben at 11-4 and Andrea at 12-1.

The firm’s spokesman, Rupert Adams, said: ‘”She has the momentum and looks like the only pop star of the three and we cannot see anything other than her victory.”

The X Factor final begins on ITV, Saturday, December 13, 8.30pm, with the winner announced on ITV, Sunday, December 14, 8.00pm.



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