Padraig Harrington has urged Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke to take it in turns to bid for the Ryder Cup captaincy.

An Irishman has never been Ryder Cup skipper but McGinley and Clarke are in pole position to go the job in 2014 and 2016 respectively. Harrington just hopes they see it that way too and don’t get in each other’s way.

“Not alone are we due an Irish captain but there are a few Irish captains coming up,” Harrington said at Celtic Manor. “You have Darren in there and Paul going in there. I have to make sure I keep playing for a number of years so that I don’t have to come up against them.

“We will have to see who does the job in Scotland in four years’ time. There is no point in Darren and Paul coming up against each other for that one and splitting the vote.”

McGinley, Clarke and Harrington have all backed Jose Maria Olazabal to lead Europe’s defence in Chicago in 2012.

McGinley said: “It would be great if the honour came my way. To be honest, I hope Olly is going to be the next captain.”

Clarke, 42, believes he can still win a sixth cap, insisting: “I want to try and play another one if I can. Jose Maria has been battling illness but if he can come back to proper form then all of Europe and all of this team would welcome him as captain in two years’ time.”

With Colin Montgomerie standing down, Harrington said: “I think Olly would be all the players’ choice. He has had a great Ryder Cup career, he brings a lot of passion to the game and he looks like he’d make a great captain but it’s a tough job.

“Monty did a great job this week, in order to be remembered as a great captain you need to have a winning team, so there’s a lot of pressure on Olly if he does take it.”

Olazabal, 44, said he would accept the job if he was asked to do it in the US in 2012 though he insisted that his battle with rheumatism would be a factor.

The Spaniard said: “There is only one answer. Yes.”