West Ham United defender James Tomkins has told Aston Villa players that relegation is not something they want to experience.

Tomkins knows how teams can crack with so much pressure heaped on young shoulders as he suffered relegation with West Ham when he had not long turned 21.

The former England Under-21 star, now 23, admitted: "It's heartbreaking to go down.

"That season we went down in 2011, I'll never forget. It took me longer than the summer break to get over our relegation.

"I was in a tough situation when I made my first-team debut at 19 under Gianfranco Zola, so I know how hard it can be. It has surprised me how it has gone for Villa. You have to look at how big the club is and their stature.

"When you look at their team it is very, very inexperienced. We can hopefully make the most of it.

"I believe when teams are down there, you need experienced heads among you.

"The experienced lads are important to Villa but it's about handling the situation you are in."