HAVING three Colchester United players on loan shows that Witham Town are building a strong relationship that will benefit both clubs, according to Town boss Marc Benterman.

Having been impressed with the work of U's defender Luke Ige during an initial one-month deal, Benterman is delighted to have extended that for another month and his squad has now been further boosted by the loan signings of Colchester youngsters Sam Cornish and Tom Stagg.

All three should be available for Witham's festive fixtures that was due to see a Boxing Day trip to Coggeshall Town in BetVictor Isthmian League division north and continues with a home game against Maldon & Tiptree on Saturday and a game at Tilbury on January 4.

Benterman is pleased to have all three Colchester players on board and feels is shows the two clubs are establishing a relationship that will help both of them as well as providing valuable senior experience to up-and-coming youngsters.

He said: "I said to the club when the opportunity came up for us to be able to sign Luke that we should jump at the chance to have a player of his calibre come on board.

"I knew that if we could get the loan deal across the line then it could be a hugely significant move for the club.

"Colchester United are a big club in this area and have a superb academy set-up and we have to be looking to build a strong relationship so we can tap into that and give their young players a chance to get senior football experience.

"They have clearly agreed with that and we're delighted to be working with them.

"The reports they've received back from Luke have shown that it's working and they are delighted with the development that they're seeing from a young player.

"And bringing in another two now just shows how that relationship is working and how healthy it is."

Ige has extended his stay at Witham for a second month after the former Aston Villa defender impressed in his initial loan spell, while midfielder Cornish and centre forward Stagg have arrived at the Simarco Stadium after spells with Maldon & Tiptree in the early part of the campaign.

Benterman added: "Luke is a fantastic young pro who just wants to play football and he has done so well for us since coming in on loan. "So I'm delighted that we've been able to extend it for a further month.

"He has slotted in alongside JT (Jake Thompson) and looked very good indeed.

"Both of them are young players with fantastic futures ahead.

"We're very pleased that Luke has wanted to stay and that Colchester have agreed to let him.

"They signed him in July from Aston Villa and I think they are delighted with his progression since he's been at Witham.

"The way that he has coped with the physicality of this league is excellent and we're also very pleased to have Sam Cornish and Tom Stagg come in from Colchester as well.

"Sam is a central midfielder and Tom is a centre forward and both have spent time with Maldon & Tiptree so far this year so they are excellent additions alongside Luke."