Arsene Wenger has confirmed that he is preparing for the absence of one of his first team players in the coming weeks.

The manager is still working on finding his best midfield partnership after losing Santi Cazorla to a knee injury in October.

Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin are currently filling the void but the option of Mohamed Elneny will no longer be available for over a month.

The 24-year-old is set for duty with Egypt at the African Cup of Nations which will see him miss at least the next four games after this Sunday’s fixture.

“He’s going to the Africa Cup of Nations on January 2,” Wenger said on Thursday

“He will be in the squad against Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day but after he will leave us to play for Egypt.”

Matches against Bournemouth, Preston, Swansea City and Burnley are what Elneny is guaranteed to miss.

Should Egypt make it to the final of the competition, the midfieldet could take until mid-February to return to action for the Gunners.

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