Niall Horan tells his 23 million followers: "We will be taking a well-earned break"

The boys were rumoured to be calling it quits early next year
The boys were rumoured to be calling it quits early next year

One Direction's Niall Horan has broken the band's silence over rumours about their future, vowing: "We are not splitting up."

The Irishman told his 23 million Twitter followers the four-piece, featuring Harry Styles, Liam Payne and father-to-be Louis Tomlinson, "will be taking a well-earned break at some point next year".

It came after a report in The Sun that the pop stars are set to go their separate ways in March.

A source told the tabloid the band will not tour their fifth album and they will instead part company for a year because they want to focus on solo projects.

In a series of tweets tonight, Horan, 21, said: "Ok so lots of rumours going round. We are not splitting up, but we will be taking a well-earned break at some point next year.

"Don't worry though, we still have lots we want to achieve! Can't wait for you to hear all the new music we have for you and to perform some new songs as the (tour) continues. Love you all."

Reports about the X Factor creation's longevity sparked a scramble for tickets to what fans feared may be One Direction's final concert.

The pop stars are currently touring in the United States but the final leg of their On The Road Again tour is in the UK, culminating in three nights at Sheffield's Motorpoint Arena on October 29, 30 and 31.

All three gigs at the 13,500 capacity venue sold-out weeks ago but, with the final Saturday performance looking like it will be fans' last chance to see the singers in a major concert for the foreseeable future, informal ticket sales are expected to move into a frenzy.

Some auction sites and online exchanges are seeing tickets for the final gig priced at twice the face value, which ranged from £43.45 to £71.50.

The break had been on the cards "with or without Zayn" Malik, who left the group in March, according to an unnamed source who spoke to The Sun.

The source claimed: "Of course they would have preferred that he had stayed in the band, but they would have taken this extended hiatus even if he hadn't left."

It is believed the break and the decision not to tour was rubber-stamped in a meeting in London last weekend.

There is "a lot of interest" in Styles from Hollywood, Tomlinson is "very much in contention to be a judge on X Factor" next year and all of them are now faced with "a massive amount of options", according to the tabloid source.

It seems that Payne may want to fine-tune his songwriting, producing and DJ skills rather than a solo career, according to the report.

In March, the band vowed to continue as a four-piece after Malik's shock departure, which he said was so he could live like a "normal" 22-year-old.

A flood of reports then suggested the group were on the verge of breaking up, but Payne thanked their devoted fans who are known as "Directioners" for sticking with the band and "not thinking it's finished".