Arsenal are set to be without midfielder Mohamed Elneny for potentially some time after he was called up to the preliminary Egypt squad for this winter’s Africa Cup of Nations.
Egypt manager Hector Cuper has included the 24-year-old in his squad for the tournament in Gabon which begins on January 14, although Elneny is expected to join up with the Pharaohs before then.
Cuper’s men are considered dark horses for the tournament and the final is scheduled for February 5, meaning Arsenal could be without his services for almost a month.
While it is not yet confirmed when Elneny will leave for international duty he could be missing as early as the trip to Bournemouth on January 3rd which his followed by the FA Cup third round clash with Preston on 7th January.
Elneny will certainly miss the games against Swansea City (Jan 14th) and Burnley (22nd Jan) but could also still be absent for the games against Watford (31st Jan) and Chelsea (4th Feb) should Egypt go all the way.
While Elneny has not been a first choice this season he has made 17 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners this season and is a vital member of the squad.
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Santi Cazorla’s absence due to injury means Arsenal are already a man down in midfield and with Aaron Ramsey having struggled with injury this season too, Elneny’s impending absence will leave Wenger’s side somewhat depleted in midfield.
Fortunately for Arsenal, Elneny is the only member of the squad who will feature at the tournament, Alex Iwobi’s Nigeria failed to qualify, meaning the youngster will be available to Wenger.