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Ed Sheeran closes in on Harry Styles in race for U.K. number one

Ed Sheeran is battling Harry Styles to keep his U.K. chart crown.

Ed Sheeran is closing in fast on Harry Styles in this week's (end16Apr17) race to have the U.K.'s number one single.

The One Direction star, 23, released his first solo single Sign of the Times last Friday (07Apr17) and surged into an early lead ahead of Ed, whose track Shape of You has been top of the charts for 13 weeks.

Fans' desperation to download Harry's track over the weekend gave him a strong early lead of around 15,500 in sales at the start of the week over Ed's Irish inspired ditty Galway Girl and Shape of You at number three.

For the purposes of the U.K. chart 150 streaming plays count for one download or material sale and the continuing popularity of Ed's music on services like Spotify has put him back on Harry's heels, with Shape of You returning to second spot.

At the time of Wednesday's (12Apr17) chart update Harry's debut release had racked up 47,000 in sales compared to Shape Of You's 39,000, meaning Ed, 26, could be on top by the time of Friday's (14Apr17) official rundown.

If Shape of You sees off Sign of the Times, it will be the track's 14th week in top spot, leaving it just two weeks away from equaling Bryan Adams' 1991 track (Everything I Do) I Do It for You's record of 16 consecutive weeks at number one.

Although he still leads in the race to top the chart, the release of Harry's debut single didn't go entirely according to plan.

A glitch on the Spotify streaming service meant that some fans claimed they were unable to play the track in the hours after its release.

A representative for Spotify confirmed to WENN that the service had experienced technical problems that were quickly fixed, but declined to comment on whether the glitch had depleted Sign of the Times streaming figures.

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