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AJ Odudu 'devastated' as she's forced to withdraw from Strictly live tour over injury

Find out who will be taking her place instead

AJ Odudu has confirmed she has withdrawn from the upcoming Strictly Come Dancing nationwide tour on medical advice.

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The TV star, who was partnered up with pro dancer Kai Widdrington for the 2021 series, suffered a devastating foot injury that led her unable to walk without the help of crutches back in December. As a result, the fan-favourite duo were forced to pull out of the 2021 series just days before the Grand Finale.

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"I'm devastated not to be able to take part in the Strictly tour due to injury. I had hoped for one last dance with Kai, but I must obviously follow the medical advice," the heartbroken TV star said in a statement. "I wish my Strictly family the very best of luck on the road and I'll definitely be there to cheer them on."

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Instead, it's been confirmed that EastEnders star and 2020 finalist Maisie Smith will partner up with Kai on the 33-date tour, which will kick off later this month on 20 January.

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She said: " I'm thrilled to be asked to restart my Strictly journey on this year's arena tour. Kai and I will be dancing the Quickstep and the Samba – I can't wait for rehearsals to start next week. It will be a joy to dance with everyone and so great to see my EastEnders friend Rose again. I wish AJ a speedy recovery."

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Maisie and Kai will join 2021 winners Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice, alongside Sara Davies and Aljaž Skorjanec, Tilly Ramsay and Nikita Kuzmin, Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu and John Whaite and Johannes Radebe.

Fellow former contestant Max George will also return, dancing alongside Katya Jones, as well as judge Bruno Tonioli, who has been absent for the past two series due to Covid travel restrictions.

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