WESTLIFE spent three days trying to persuade BRYAN McFADDEN to stay in the group - but would be reluctant to take him back if he changes his mind.

Singer Nicky Byrne reveals the Irish popstars spent 72 hours locked in talks to try and convince McFadden not to quit earlier this month (MAR04) - but even his suggestion of professional counselling failed to convince the star to remain in the band.

Byrne explains, "He told us on Thursday that he wanted to quit. That was a huge bombshell, the last thing I expected. The band spent all of Friday, Saturday and Sunday locked in my house with our manager Louis Walsh. It was like the Northern Ireland peace process.

"I offered him counselling. I told the lads, 'This is just like a marriage and if a marriage is going down the tubes you'd see a counsellor. Westlife is more or less like a marriage, so let's see a counsellor and see if we can work out what is bothering Bryan.' But his mind was made up."

Byrne adds McFadden - who wants to spend more time with his wife, ex-ATOMIC KITTEN KERRY, and their two young children - is unsure whether he has made the right decision in quitting the massively successful group, but the band are unsure if they would take him back if he does change his mind.

He says, "He is going through ups and downs wondering whether he did the right thing. But the decision's made. We won't be standing with open arms if he asks to come back.

"Maybe in three or four months he'll regret it and, of course, we'd talk to him."

18/03/2004 13:34