Strictly Rhys Stephenson wont replace AJ Odudu as he values his mental health

Rhys Stephenson has made it clear he won't be replacing AJ Odudu in this weekend's Strictly Come Dancing finale, saying he "values his mental health too much".

Poor AJ, 33, and her dance partner Kai Widdrington, 26, were forced to pull out of the final after she picked up a painful injury that left her struggling to walk.

And after Rhys, 28, was eliminated from the show last week with partner Nancy Xu, 30, fans have been asking if he'll be stepping in instead of AJ.

However he has now denied speculation, releasing a statement which suggested the whole ordeal had been tougher than fans may have thought.

He said on Instagram: "I've had a lot of messages from people asking if I'm going to be in the final now as AJ has hurt herself. Let me tell you now… absolutely not!

"I value my mental health soo much. I'm going to go there and enjoy myself and have a good time.

"That ship has sailed. It would be lovely, but not with two days to go."

On Friday, AJ released a statement after she was seen hobbling on crutches and forced to pull out of the show.

She said: "I’m deeply upset that I am unable to perform in the final due to a torn ligament in my right ankle.

"Learning to dance over the last 13 weeks has been an incredible honour and to do it alongside someone as special, patient and devoted as Kai is something I’ll treasure forever.

“Thank you to the Strictly family for the experience, the medical team for trying to get me back on my feet, and mostly, to everyone at home for watching and supporting. You’ve made this experience one to remember.

“Strictly Come Dancing has been a lifelong dream and I’m glad it came true. Good luck to my partners in dance, John and Johannes and Rose and Giovanni. I will be cheering you on (on one leg!).”

Now, just John Whaite, 32, and his partner Johannes Radebe, 34, and Rose-Ayling Ellis, 27, and her pro Giovanni Pernice, 31, will battle it out for the glitterball trophy.

Each couple will dance three routines, but with AJ out a Strictly spokesperson confirmed the runtime of the finale had been reduced.

Reports suggest it could be cut by 30 minutes – though the show is still sure to be packed full with fabulous fun.

Strictly's finale kicks off at 7.10pm on BBC One

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