will.i.am believes Fergie will return to Black Eyed Peas when she is ready.
The 42-year-old producer says while the 'M.I.L.F.$.' hitmaker is busy working on her own solo album 'Double Dutchess', the door is open for Fergie, also 42, to dip straight back into the 'Where Is The Love?' group.
will - who is joined by Taboo and apl.de.app in Black Eyed Peas - told E! News: "Fergie is working on her new solo project. It's really fresh. 'Double Dutchess'.
"Fergie's great and her project is amazing. I worked on it. We're working on Black Eyed Peas. We're a family and we're going to continue to do our thing."
The 'Voice UK' mentor said it was important for the band to push forward with their new music and project 'Masters of the Sun'.
He said recently: "Since the beginning of Black Eyed Peas, we've always had amazing vocalists that appeared on the mic with us. People like Macy Gray, Esthero, Debi Nova, Fergie. On 'Elephunk', there were several females that appeared on that album. Obviously Fergie was the featured female, but on songs like 'Lets Get it Started', it's Noelle [Scaggs], and then Fergie, songs like 'Latin Girls', it's Debi Nova, and 'Request Line', it's Macy Gray. We'll always work with good females.
"But Black Eyed Peas are pushing it forward in terms of content, technology and experiences on our new project, 'Masters of the Sun.'"
And will insists they have no plans to "replace" Fergie.
He added: "As for replacing, what people know The Black Eyed Peas to be, nobody is replacing Fergie."
The group whole-heartedly support Fergie - who has three-year-old son Axl with her husband Josh Duhamel - in her future ventures as a solo artist, and will.i.am has teased Black Eyed Peas will feature on some of her solo tracks.
He said: "She's working on her solo project at the moment, we're on this brand-new experience, celebrating 20 years of Black Eyed Peas putting out music. We worked on a bunch of songs on her solo record, we're proud that she has her label."