Rafael Benitez has expressed his surprise at the appointment of Andy Madley as referee for promotion-hunting Newcastle's Sky Bet Championship clash with Preston.
Madley was born in Huddersfield and his home-town club are currently seven points behind the Magpies with a game in hand as the season approaches a potentially dramatic conclusion.
Social media has been awash with conspiracy theories, but while Benitez has no concerns over Madley taking charge of Monday's game at St James' Park, he admits he did raise an eyebrow when he learnt the identity of the man in the middle.
He said: "I was really surprised with the assignation, but we have to trust the referees. We haven't had too much luck this year with some decisions, but I have always a lot of respect for the referees.
"I know it's a difficult job. Hopefully everything will be fine and nobody will be talking about the referee at the end of the game."
Newcastle have faltered in recent weeks and taken just a single point from the last nine on offer to all but hand Brighton the title and give the chasing pack hope.
However, Benitez remains confident promotion remains firmly within their grasp.
He said: "We still have to play three games in this mini-league, so we will see what happens."