Good times for Tomkins

The first-team squad are back in training after their first free weekend since early December with James Tomkins summing up the prevailing positive mood in the camp.

After defeating Mark Hughes' Manchester City 1-0 at the Boleyn Ground on 1 March, West Ham United travelled to Wigan three days later and won a lively encounter by the same scoreline. Tomkins played a key role in both games. The 19-year-old defender said the manner of the wins against rivals for seventh spot had left everyone on a high.

"We played two games in the space of a few days and to pick up another three points was brilliant, particularly against a team like Wigan who are doing well themselves. We come out with the win and I think we deserved it. It was a very physical game but we've come out with another result and that is very important for our position in the league. We coped very well and picked up another three points," Tomkins said.

Tomkins has been a big success since coming into the Hammers' starting XI in place of the injured James Collins and has grown in stature. The central defender is enjoying the experience of playing alongside international defenders Matthew Upson. Lucas Neill and Herita Ilunga.

"Against Wigan I think the back-four were brilliant and we defended really well all over the park. Obviously we were down to ten men early on so we had our work cut out. Until they had a man sent-off we were outnumbered and we had to defend well and we did as a unit.

"Everybody put their effort in and the subs came on and did brilliantly for us - Specs [Jonathan Spector] winning headers and Savio too. There is good competition for places and that's obviously good because everybody is playing well, working as a team and there is a good team spirit."

The six points gained in those two games has left the Hammers sitting seventh, with a four-point cushion above eighth-placed Manchester City with ten games to go. If Zola's side can maintain their position then a UEFA Europa League place could be in the offing for next season, although Tomkins is keen to not get too carried away.

"It's a good position we're in in the league but we've obviously got to keep it up. There's still a long way to go so we need to keep this up and hopefully we can finish at least seventh."