Ryder Cup roulette - Harrington, Howell and Luiten in the chamber

Pádraig Harrington congratulates Paul McGinley on his appointment as European captain on 15 January 2012 in Abu Dhabi. Picture: Fran Caffrey/www.golffile.ie

With the Ryder Cup wildcards set to be announced by Paul McGinley on Tuesday, it's time for some wild speculation to match. 

Back in February we took a punt on the Dubliner picking Sam Torrance, Des Smyth and David Howell as his assistants but he went with just the elder statesmen, announcing that he would add two current players to his back room team once the qualifying period ended.

That day is now approaching and we still feel that Mr Howell might just have a sniff. And we're not ruling out Harrington either, especially after the draw for the Italian Open was released. 

Together fo the first two rounds in Turin this week...

I think anybody wants to be captain of the Ryder Cup team has to be vice captain a couple of times or at least once.
— Pádraig Harrington

We suggested after the Wyndham Championship two weeks ago that Harrington might well need to get his foot in the Ryder Cup door should he want the job in the near future. And having sounded him out about the possibility shortly after McGinley was handed the honour in 2012, he clearly isn't averse to the idea:

“I’m really focused on playing, definitely.  But it would be interesting to be involved.  There’s no doubt about it, being in the background, seeing what’s going on.
“I think anybody wants to be captain of the Ryder Cup team has to be vice captain a couple of times or at least once.”

Of course, much will depend on who makes the team automatically with Stephen Gallacher needing a top-two finish to displace Graeme McDowell.

If McDowell survives, there are several standout picks and while McGinley may well spring a surprise, we're inclined to think he'll take few chances and got with his gut instinct.

"Being a Ryder Cup captain, there are good bits of the job and there’s bad bits,” McGinley has said. “And everybody has talked about how difficult it is calling guys, particularly friends of yours, to tell them they haven’t made the team.

“That’s going to be difficult, I know it is. But I’ve been very upfront with them, they know where they stand, and I’ve tried to be very open and transparent with where I was going with the picks and it was up to the players to show me some form and some reason why they should be picked.”

In Poulter must be a certainty for a pick. But what about Lee Westwood instead of Luke Donald? Or vice-versa? Don't rule it out. Gallacher's outstanding record at Gleneagles will be a plus for him but what if Luiten wins and moves even closer to the team without being able to make it? 

With Harrington and Howell as potential vice-captains, where does that leave Miguel Angel Jimenez? It's a fascinating process and a far more pleasant challenge for McGInley than the one potentially facing Tom Watson.

Certain to be without Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson, Watson also looks like losing the injured Jason Dufner. 

We await developments with interest.