Arsenal won’t have to worry about losing Mohamed Elneny or Alex Iwobi to the Africa Cup of Nations from its next staging in 2019.

As well as expanding from 16 to 24 teams, the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 is going to be held in June instead of January.

These crucial changes were approved at a meeting of the Confederation of African Football in Rabat, Morocco, which acted on recommendations made at a symposium earlier in the week.

According to the Guardian, other decisions included the awarding of the 2021 and 2023 AFCON tournaments to the Ivory Coast and Guinea respectively.

Until now, the tournament has taken place from January to February, slap-bang in the middle of the season during one of the Premier League’s trickiest fixture runs.

This has always been a pain in the backside and therefore the time change to June, once the season is over, will be welcomed by most European clubs.

While Iwobi’s three-time champions Nigeria didn’t qualify, this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon meant that Arsenal lost Mohamed Elneny for the entire tournament, since his country, Egypt, reached the final (and lost 2-1 to Cameroon).

The 25-year-old featured heavily for his country during the competition and even scored their only goal in the final.

While Elneny wasn’t a first team starter at the time for Arsenal, Francis Coquelin’s inconsistency, Aaron Ramsey’s paper legs, and referees’ apparent disliking for Granit Xhaka meant that not having another defensive midfielder on standby was nerve-wracking.

The Africa Cup of Nations 2018 will be held in Kenya, with the qualifying rounds taking place between April ’17 and August.