McIlroy backed the 2011 Open champion during a recent interview for the BBC.
“There would be no better candidate from the European side,” McIlroy said of his longtime mate. “He is absolutely loved over there. He would be just as well received in the United States as probably the United States captain.
“So, it can only be an advantage for the European team if Darren was to lead us out.”
Clarke, 46, was a vice captain in 2010 and ’12 but is not a part of the proceedings this week at Gleneagles.
There have been reports that Clarke and McGinley’s relationship deteriorated after their competition for the 2014 captaincy. Clarke first said he wasn’t interested, then said that he was, then changed his mind again and supported Colin Montgomerie. The stunning about-face left Clarke on the sidelines when it came time for naming vice captains for this year’s matches.
In early 2013, McIlroy was among the most vocal supporters for McGinley’s captaincy, saying, “I think he’s very deserving and I think it would almost be a little unfair if he didn’t get it.”
The 2016 matches will be held at Hazeltine in Minnesota.