Inkster's not worried by half a team of rookies at Solheim Cup

Team USA captain Juli Inkster and Team Europe captain Catriona Matthew pose ahead of the 2019 Solheim Cup at Gleneagles

Juli Inkster believes Stacy Lewis will still play a big role in her team's Solheim Cup defence - despite her injury disappointment.

Lewis, chosen by Inkster as a captain's pick, suffered a back injury last week and withdrew from the 12-strong USA team at Gleneagles on Tuesday, with Ally McDonald taking her place.

Lewis will now become the team's number one cheerleader, lending her experience to Inkster's backroom staff, which includes vice-captains Nancy Lopez, Wendy Ward and Pat Hurst.

"It's disappointing for her but ten years from now it's going to be a little blip in her life," said Inkster.

"I told her 'you've got a lot more Solheim Cups' and she's also got a lot more golf this year that she needs to think about.

"Stacy's been very up front and very honest with me. She realised it's a team event and we need 12 players.

"I feel like I really have the best of both worlds right now; I've got a healthy player in Ally and I have Stacy helping us out.

"She’ll be a huge presence on and off the golf course. She's been here before and she knows what it's about. We have a very young team, and they're wide-eyed and we're just trying to answer their questions, she's been great at that."

Lewis was part of Inkster's winning team in 2015 and 2017 and was initially selected to give experience to an American side that included five rookies.

McDonald's inclusion means half the team are now making their debuts - with Lewis seeing her new role as being there for the newcomers, the unofficial ‘big sister’ of the team room.

"I'm not going anywhere, I'll be here with Ally and the rookies and helping out Juli wherever she needs me,” she said.

“We've talked a lot of strategy today and tried to get the rookies comfortable with what the week's going to be like. I'm there to answer questions and just be there for them.

"I've had time to process it and the team's been super supportive. The girls have been great and they've helped me a lot through it.

"It's just really, really disappointing because this is my favourite tournament we have. And that first tee, there's nothing like it. I'm just disappointed I don't get to hit that shot but I'll watching."

Inkster, who is seeking to become the first Solheim Cup captain to win the trophy on three straight occasions, remains remarkably relaxed about the youthful make up of her team, tempered by the experience of her support staff.

"We've got six great rookies,” she added. “They've made the team and they've qualified. I put Ally in the hat because I think she was the most deserving player to be the next one up.

"She's probably the hardest one to tell she didn't make the initial team because she really did everything to do it but she came up just a little bit short.

"I asked her to be my alternate and she didn't hesitate. We wanted to come, she wanted to learn and knew they'd be more Solheim Cups in the future.

"She had a great attitude right from the get go, and we're happy to have her in our team."