The African Cup of Nations should be moved so it doesn’t conflict with English/European club football.

That is the view of Ghana’s Christian Atsu as he prepares for this year’s finals in Gabon.

Impressing in a friendly on the day of his 25th birthday yesterday, Atsu believes that missing such an important middle part of the Championship season could be a major setback for him and others.

The winger has been involved, either from the start or off the bench, in eight of Newcastle’s last nine games but now worries that when he returns to Tyneside he will find he is back to square one.

Rafa Benitez is said to be targeting a winger in the transfer window and the United boss experimented with Lazaar and Yedlin as wing-backs at Birmingham on Saturday, which could further hamper Atsu’s efforts after the African Cup of Nations.

The Chelsea winger is hoping to get a permanent deal at St James Park and the only way that will happen is if he plays games and impresses.

Newcastle have known all about the disruption that the competition can bring, ever since they recruited the likes of Cheick Tiote, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse.

Christian Atsu’s calls to move the finals coincides with moves from others to further expand the number of teams taking part.

The ridiculous decision to go with 48 countries at future World Cups has led to calls for the CAF to increase the number of teams at future African Cup of Nations finals from 16 to 24.

If this happened and the competition remained during the English/European football seasons, it would inevitably lead to the finals taking place over an increased time span and players missing even more club football.

Christian Atsu speaking to TV3:

”It (missing club football to play in African Cup on Nations) is a worry to many players, especially the foreign players, it affects us a lot.

”Most times you lose your position when you go back to your Club.

“Someone will play if you are not around and if the person performs, it means you have to sit on the bench when you come back.

”It is a big worry and I think CAF should do something about it.”