By Coral Barry

Aston Villa will struggle to get rid of top-earner Joleon Lescott when they drop into the Championship next season, according to Paul Merson.

Lescott, 33, has been a constant presence in Villa’s miserable season and incited an angry response from supporters after he admitted last weekend’s relegation into the Championship had “lifted a weight off the shoulders” of the players.

A 1-0 defeat to Manchester United confirmed Villa’s Premier League fate and Merson has suggested getting Lescott off the wage bill for the coming Championship season will be a virtually impossible task.

“He wants to stay and fair enough to him,” said Merson speaking to Sky Sports’ Fantasy Football Club Podcast.  “If you’re on that kind of money you’d want to stay anyway wouldn’t you?

“You’re not going to get that somewhere else.”

Lescott’s behaviour this season has already attracted plenty of criticism with supporters enraged to see a Twitter post of an expensive car just hours after Liverpool humiliated Villa 6-0 in front of their home fans.

The former England international moved to Villa in the summer from West Brom, but his vast experience of life in the top flight has not had the desired effect on the Midlands club who have conceded an incredible 65 goals this campaign.

However, Merson thinks Lescott is being unfairly treated by a majority of the Villa fans and defended the comments he made after the United defeat.

The former Villa winger said: “I wouldn’t blame him. He didn’t mean it the way it came out.

“I thought he meant that they could concentrate on next season.”

In other Villa news, another under-fire Villians’ player should consider remaining indoors after the latest scandal.