Ryder Cup skipper Nick Faldo reckons Padraig Harrington is the ace who could trump the Americans at Valhalla.

And even Faldo’s protege, “Little Nick” Dougherty, has weighed in by calling on the Dubliner to take over from Monty as the daddy of the European pack.

After watching Harrington win two Open Championships and the US PGA in the space of just 386 days, Faldo wants to see those crazy eyes again next week.

Faldo said: “The way he played the last nine holes of the Open this summer was brilliant. I saw the change in him when he won it for the first time last year.

“His eyes went the size of saucers and he was completely focused and in tune. He did the same thing this time.

“It's absolutely amazing - and a real morale boost for us to have the two-time Open champion and the new US PGA champ."

Harrington will jet out to the US with the European team on Monday next with a huge burden of expectation on his shoulders.

Only Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia have played more Ryder Cup matches than the Dubliner.

And Harrington will be expected to lead by example by his captain in a match that under fire skipper Faldo has no intention of losing.

The English legend feels good about his side’s chances of winning the trophy for the fourth year on the trot.

But he admits that it could be a lot closer this time than the nine-point hammerings dished out at Oakland Hills and The K Club in 2004 and 2006.

Faldo said “My gut instinct is good. Retaining the Ryder Cup in America is my goal. I don't see anything else but a win - even if it's going to be close this time.

“I like to think that, with 30 years' experience and 20 years as a Ryder Cup player, I'm pretty well prepared to say and do the right things which will help this team win."

Dougherty failed to make the side this year but pointed to Harrington as the man that the rest of the team will look to for inspiration.

Dougherty said: “Padraig's confidence is going to be high after winning three majors in a year. He'll also be one of the guys the others will look to as a leader.

"Obviously not having Colin Montgomerie in the team for the first time in a long time is going to be a blow, so someone needs to come in and take on the 'fatherly' role if you like and guide the team through.

“That's what Colin always did and it's going to take someone like Padraig to do that.

“He's not got the same amount of victories that Colin has but he obviously stands out as being the leader of this team.”

Faldo expects much from showman Sergio Garcia, who has lost just four of his 20 Ryder Cup showdowns since 1999.

And he stands by his decision to pick Ian Poulter, who he believes will help the team with his charisma.

Faldo said: “I like him. I really like him. We get on well. We chat well. He is determined and feisty and does it his way.

“He's quite happy that he looks flash and talks big. Having another charismatic player on the team like him will be very useful."

Dougherty has no idea who will come out on top as Europe’s highest points scorer.

But he would not be surprised if wildcards Poulter or Paul Casey grabbed the lion’s share, such is the strength in depth in the side.

He added: "Everyone's playing great so it is hard to see where the biggest points winner will come from. I fully expect our guys to go there and get the trophy.

Former Ryder Cup player Peter Baker, who was an assistant at The K Club two years ago, reckons in-form Garcia will be Europe’s inspiration.

Baker said: "I always think that Garcia can really inspire the European team. He's full of life and a Garcia on fire can lead the team.

"For me, him, Westwood and Harrington would be the three I'd be looking to form the backbone of the team.”

Meanwhile Lee Westwood has shot down speculation that a bout of tonsilitis put his Ryder Cup participation in doubt.

Westwood said: "I'm fine, recovering well. I did pull out of last week's event in Switzerland, but made it known that if it was possible I'd like to get an invite into this week's in Germany.

"But there weren't any invites left and when the promoter eventually came up with one there were a couple of conditions which I couldn't go along with so I had to turn that invite down.

"I also decided that another week's rest, a bit of gym work and a lot of practice at home here would have me in better shape for the Ryder Cup."