Cheryl Cole's friends insist she isn't dating Derek Hough.

The Girls Aloud beauty has been romantically linked with the 'Dancing With The Stars' professional since earlier this year - shortly after her split from Ashley Cole amid reports he had been unfaithful - but pals of the pop star claim their relationship is platonic.

The singer's pal, boxer Amir Khan told Grazia magazine: "I had dinner with Cheryl and Derek in Los Angeles last week. He's not her boyfriend. They're not going out. It's all just a cover up to keep photographers at bay."

British singer Joe McElderry - who struck up a close bond with Cheryl when she mentored him on UK TV talent show 'The X Factor' last year - is in regular contact with the 'Fight for This Love' singer, but even he is unconvinced that Derek is her boyfriend.

He told BANG Showbiz: "Cheryl's great. I spoke to her the other day and she's doing fine. I don't know whether Derek's her boyfriend or not, but it seems like he's a nice man."

Cheryl and Derek first became friends earlier this year, when the blonde hunk appeared in her 'Parachute' music video. Since then, Derek has been a permanent fixture in Cheryl's life, supporting her throughout her split from Ashley, taking her on lavish holidays - including to Tanzania, where she contracted malaria.

However, despite the claims, Derek's stepfather, Aaron Nelson, recently insisted the dancer has found "true love" with the British star.

He said: "For Derek, this is true love. There is No Doubt about it. He is totally in love with her. And it's easy to see why. She is one hell of a girl. Very talented and incredibly beautiful.

"I know Derek is in love with her because he has told me he is in love with her."