One Direction have started recording their next album.

The five-piece band - featuring Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne - confirmed in December they had started thinking about their next LP, and have now headed into the studio to begin work on the collection.

A source revealed: ''There has been a bit of a question about the timing of the fifth album but there was never any doubt it would be released, despite the ridiculous speculation.''

The chart-topping group released their latest album, 'Four', in November, and are now hoping to have their fifth record completed in time to release before Christmas - as they have done with all of their previous albums - despite considering taking a break.

The source continued: ''Initially the guys thought they might want more time away from the studio because they've been busy promoting 'Four'.

''But they've been itching to get back recording again because it's what they love to do, so it's full steam ahead.''

As with their previous albums, the lads have enlisted the help of songwriting experts Wayne Hector, who co-wrote 'Best Song Ever' and 'Steal My Girl', and Julian Bunetta, who was responsible for 'You And I' and latest single 'Night Changes'.

Wayne - who has previously written hits for Nicki Minaj, Olly Murs and Westlife - recently confirmed he would be returning to write with the band following sessions with drum and bass group Sigma.

He said: ''I'm finishing off some songs with Sigma then I'm going to start writing for the new One Direction album.

''I'm really looking forward to it -- they're always great to work with.''

Despite enlisting the help of their long-term songwriting collaborators, the world-renowned band - who scooped the American Music Award for Artist of the Year at the 2014 ceremony in November - will have ''control'' over the music and the direction of the band.

The source told The Sun newspaper: ''The reality is that after nearly five years together they are very much in control of their sound and the process.''