DAVID Howell believes a European victory at the Ryder Cup would be even sweeter given the quality of the American team travelling to Paris.

Thomas Bjorn captains a Europe side looking to regain the trophy at Le Golf National this weekend following a 17-11 victory for the US at Hazeltine two years ago.

Many experts view the current American side as one of the strongest in history as 11 of the 12-man team are currently ranked inside the top 20 in the world, with five-time major champion Phil Mickelson the lowest down at number 25.

Nine of that dozen are also able to boast major titles to their name, headed by former world number one Tiger Woods as he plays in the competition for the first time since 2012.

However, former Ryder Cup winner Howell believes the European contingent is also one to be feared and believes they are more than capable of extending a strong recent record that has seen them win each of the last five tournaments held on home turf.

“It is undoubtedly a really strong American side, but I think that sets it up pretty nicely for Thomas Bjorn in that if his side pull off a victory, then it will go down as a great one,” said Swindon’s Howell, who helped Europe to victory in both the 2004 and 2006 editions of the competition.

“We haven’t lost in Europe for 25 years. There are numerous reasons for that, but home advantage must play its part. And historically in the last 25 years, Europe have been very good at playing Ryder Cup golf.

“I think the strength of the American team is evened out by the home advantage, and Europe have a really strong team as well anyway – it is one of the strongest we have put together.

“I think it is a toss of a coin. The format is a real leveller and I think it will go right down to the wire.”

The European team contains five rookies compared to three within the American line-up but reigning European Tour Race To Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood and world number eight Jon Rahm are amongst those, so Howell sees that inexperience as no cause for concern.

“When I played as rookie, I was a real rookie,” said 43-year-old Howell, who scored one point from two matches on debut at Oakland Hills in 2004.

“I hadn’t really played in America, I forged my way into the team pretty much from a European schedule.

“These guys, all bar Thorbjorn Olesen, are members of the PGA Tour and are playing all the big tournaments.

“They know all the American guys just as well as their own guys and are totally comfortable playing at the highest level of the game and trying to win Majors.

“Tommy Fleetwood shot 62 on the final day of the US Open to lose by one shot earlier this year. He is Europe’s number one, so with guys like that you might as well forget the term rookie.

“I think that everyone is more than capable of handling it mentally. If I was Thomas Bjorn, that is the way I would look at it.”