Strictly team ‘hoping and praying’ injured AJ Odudu can dance in final

The TV presenter injured her ankle during rehearsals
Strictly team ‘hoping and praying’ injured AJ Odudu can dance in final

By Laura Harding, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Strictly Come Dancing host Tess Daly has said the show’s team is “hoping and praying” AJ Odudu will be able to compete in the final on Saturday night.

The TV presenter is due to take on soap star Rose Ayling-Ellis and baker John Whaite for the glitterball trophy but her ability to perform has been thrown into question after injuring herself in rehearsals.

She has previously explained that she has issues with her joints and has suffered a “traumatic injury” to her ligaments, saying there is “a lot of inflammation”.

Daly told ITV’s This Morning: “We are hoping and praying she is going to be recovered fully in order to dance on Saturday night, we are all behind her and I know she had treatment last night and we are hoping she’ll go back into training this afternoon.”

Odudu has said the pain in her ankle was so bad that she vomited and earlier this week she was unable to stand on her right foot or stand up at all without crutches.

Daly also praised the production team who have kept the show on air this year amid restrictions and numerous illnesses.

She said: “Our producers and our whole crew are brilliant at what they do.

“It’s a big show and it’s absolutely live, there’s no delay, anything could happen and they’ve pulled it off and it’s been wonderful and it’s a credit to the team who work so hard.”

Discussing the atmosphere backstage, she said: “It’s exciting more than anything else, the adrenaline, you can feel it in the room.. anything can happen like when AJ almost fell from her lift, you just don’t know which way it will go.

“You’re just rooting for all the couples because they are so nervous and I think they are so brave putting themselves out there every week.”

Assessing who could win, she said: “I genuinely don’t know who, none of us do because they are so close in ability – AJ has had perfect scores of 40, but John has had more 39s than anyone else in the competition, and on the night they are all dancing three times.

“The judges are picking a dance they think they can improve upon. AJ will be doing her jive – all being well – and she danced that week one, so judges think 13 weeks later, she’s a better dancer now, so they are picking a dance they think they would have improved upon most this series.”

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