Disappointment for One Directioners as five become four

One Direction took over the Today show earlier to launch their new album, which is released worldwide today.

But fans were shocked when only four of the lads stepped out on stage in Orlando, Florida for the big performance, with Zayn Malik nowhere to be seen.

Presenter Matt Lauer was quick to address the glaring absence, saying, "I'm counting chairs here and I see four…where is Zayn?"

Turns out the poor singer has a "tummy bug," and couldn't make the trip to Florida, according to bandmate Liam. “He couldn’t make it over, but we only found out this morning. We’re really sad and he is as well, that he can’t be here for our album release," he said during the interview.

Matt was clearly looking for a scoop, as he went on to press Liam about the possibility that Zayn's mysteriously illness might be related to "substance abuse" – but that allegation was quickly shot down. "No, he’s just got a stomach bug," said Liam.

"He’s ok, he’s just at home — he’s got to rest,” Liam added. “We’re just waiting for a phone call from him!”

Fans quickly took to social media to wish the 21-year-old well, with #GetWellSoonZayn and #WheresZayn trending worldwide on Twitter.

And to really pull at the heartstrings, the guys refused to introduce themselves as "One Direction," saying they weren't complete without their bandmate. Aaaaw!

Check out their performance of Steal My Girl, the lead single from Four, here: