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PA & Sonia Sharma

This Morning host Phillip Schofield breaks silence and calls Holly Willoughby his 'rock' in new statement

This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield has described his co-host Holly Willoughby as his "rock" amid reports of tension between the stars.

Phillip recently returned to the ITV show after taking pre-planned leave last month. The Sun previously reported the absence had contributed to a "cooling" of their friendship.

And insiders have claimed that, while they maintain professionalism on screen, they are "barely speaking" off camera. But in a statement, Schofield, 61, told the paper: "As I have said before, Holly is my rock. We're the best of friends - as always, she is an incredible support on screen, behind the scenes and on the phone.

Read More: This Morning's Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield 'barely speaking' off-camera

"Holly has always been there for me, through thick and thin. And I've been there for her. The last few weeks haven't been easy for either of us."

Schofield says he has been through a tough time and they have remained close throughout. Willoughby, 42, was also ill and took time off This Morning.

Schofield added: "My family went through a real ordeal, and Holly's support throughout meant the world to me - as did the support of my bosses at ITV, my editor Martin Frizell and the whole This Morning family, including our amazing viewers.

"And of course Holly has herself been ill with shingles. Whatever happens, we still have each other to count on."

Phillip has been a regular presenter on This Morning since 2002 alongside hosts including Fern Britton and Amanda Holden. He and Holly, who also present Dancing On Ice together, have become firm favourites with the public.

In October, Phillip thanked viewers after This Morning took home the daytime prize at the National Television Awards, saying: "This means so much to us every year, especially this year." It came after the co-hosts had faced criticism over claims they skipped the queue for the Queen's lying in state.

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