Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez says Mark Clattenburg’s involvement in their match against Swansea City will not affect his team selection.
The Stamford Bridge clash on Sunday will be the first time Clattenburg has officiated in a match involving the European champions since he was falsely accused of racially abusing Chelsea midfielders John Obi Mikel and Ramires.
The allegations came in the aftermath of Chelsea’s 3-2 home defeat to Manchester United in October, a match they finished with just nine men.
While the accusations were investigated, Clattenburg was suspended, and much attention will be focused on his return to Chelsea for their clash with Michael Laudrup’s side.
But manager Benitez – who saw his side defeat Basel 2-1 in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday – believes both players will shake the hand of Clattenburg, and that the past will not be an issue.
Benitez said: “What happened between them last time will make no difference in terms of team selection.
“I think John will shake his hand. I don’t see any problem. The normal situation will be fine – and with Ramires too.
“They are professionals and they know their job, so I don’t see any different situations to another referee.
“Hopefully, everyone will forget and we will just concentrate on the football game and that’s it. I don’t think it will have any effect, one way or another.”
Chelsea could potentially start Sunday’s match fifth in the Premier League table, if Tottenham defeat Wigan a day earlier.
With the top three sides in the table automatically qualifying for the UEFA Champions League, three points will be essential for Chelsea against a Swansea City side who defeated them in the semi-finals of this season’s League Cup.