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Take that, Gary! Janet's pal tells harsh judge to stop picking on shy teen

TV judge Gary Barlow is picking on Janet Devlin because he's got the fear factor, say her pals.

Friends of the Irish singer claim she is getting a hard time on the X Factor as Barlow is worried about her potential.

The 17-year-old hopeful's pal, Megan Sweeney, has jumped to the defence of the shy singer and wants the Take That star (40) to lay off.

"I think Gary doesn't want to admit that he likes her," Megan told the Herald.

"No matter what she does, he doesn't seem to give her credit, I think he's just scared of losing one of his own acts."

Janet gave a rousing rendition of Queen's Somebody to Love on last weekend's live show, but was told by Barlow that she is becoming "predictable" and he is losing interest in her.

Megan (17) has insisted that Janet is capable of being versatile and is not a boring performer.

"I know she's working really hard. I like her doing more upbeat songs because I know she can and she sings them very well."

Nigel Frith, principal of Janet's secondary school, Drumragh Integrated college, has also slated Barlow's actions.

"Gary was unacceptably rude to Janet on stage and it definitely knocked her confidence a bit. Her strength of character is really being tested now.

"The comments were very unfair, but we're all behind her and we know she can prevail," Frith said.

While Janet's mentor Kelly Rowland stood up for the teen on-air, Mayo man Louis Walsh was the one to gush praise for the hopeful and her talent.

"Louis absolutely loves her, he keeps talking about her Celtic soul and he went up to her backstage to tell her she blew him away with her performance -- she was so shocked," Megan revealed.

"I'd say Louis will be in her corner now that his acts are gone, he's Irish too and that's important."

Janet escaped being voted off the TV3 series, but has slipped behind Amelia Lily (17) in bookmakers favourites to win.

The Gortin local was toppled from her top spot by male rivals Marcus Collins and Craig Colton last week but has now dropped further down the ladder to fourth place favourite, behind Amelia, who returned on Saturday to replace Frankie Cocozza.

However, Megan added that Janet wants to win and is not threatened by the pink-haired beauty.