"Rita is at the top of his list with Cheryl. He has been a massive fan of hers for a while. He has offered it to her before but she didn't think the time was right. Now the ball is very much in her court," a source told The Sun newspaper.
"Simon is planning a huge shake-up next year, as it is highly likely he'll be back. Rita and Cheryl would be his dream team," the source added. Cowell is also hoping that Cole will make her return. However, a spokesperson for the star denied there had been any talks earlier this month.
Cole originally left the show in 2010. Cowell had offered her a chance to return to the panel for British version in 2011, but she refused.