Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has described the change in schedule for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to the summer months as ‘fantastic’ news for European clubs.

“If that’s the change it’s perfect for us obviously,” he said. “Because it’s hard in the middle of the season to lose players like we do … It’s not good for the clubs, it’s not good for the competition, it’s not good for the players.”

The Confederation of African Football announced on Thursday plans for the 2019 edition of the tournament to be held in June and July, rather than in its traditional slot in January and February.

United were deprived of centre-back Eric Bailly for a month at the start of the calendar year as he missed eight games due to his international commitments with the Ivory Coast in Gabon.

The change in scheduling for the Nations Cup was one of several changes to the African football calendar announced by CAF following the symposium in Rabat last week. The confederation has also decided to expand the tournament to 24 teams and change the programming for the continent’s inter-club competitions.