WITHAM Town manager Marc Benterman says he hopes the loan signing of Colchester United youngster Luke Ige can be the start of a productive relationship between the two clubs.

The 19-year-old U's defender, who joined Colchester on a one-year deal after being released from Premier League side Aston Villa last summer, has come to Witham on an initial one-month loan deal.

Despite only being at the Simarco Stadium for a week, Benterman has already been impressed by the youngster's ability and attitude and thanked Colchester for allowing him to come.

The Town boss felt it was a move that could benefit the player and both clubs and hoped to be able to secure closer links with the U's for similar loans in the future.

Benterman said: “Luke is a fantastic lad to have around the group.

“We have him for a month and we’re delighted by that.

“He has been outstanding so far and we can’t thank Colchester enough for allowing us to take him.

“It’s just nice for a club like Witham to have links with Colchester.

“They are just 20 minutes down the road and if we can tap into their boys then that’s got to help both of us.

“It’s something we’ve never done before and you can see what it means with having Luke on board.

“He’s come in from a pro club and the way he has conducted himself has been so good.

“I can’t thank my own club for getting it over the line and the hard work to get that done.

“Luke has settled into the group really well and I think he already wants to extend the deal because he has liked what he has seen and what we do.

“Colchester had someone along for his first game and I think they were impressed with how we conducted ourselves on the pitch and off it.

“We are looking to build partnerships with Colchester United as well as several other clubs.

“Luke has said he wants to extend the loan deal already and we’ll have to see if that’s doable as we have to respect Colchester and their wishes.

“But if we can help him along the way and be a part of his development then that has to be good.

“Academy football is always played non-contact with fantastic facilities, but you then come to somewhere like Witham and get kicked in the first minute and have to deal with it.

“Luke hasn’t shirked anything and it’s been really good to see him here.

“If we can help him in his development in the next four to five weeks then that will be good.”

Ige has predominantly been used as a right-back when he has seen under-23 action for Colchester, but Witham have employed him in a central role and Benterman has been impressed by the youngster's versatility.

He added: “We’re using him as a centre half because that’s where he was playing for Aston Villa, but he is versatile and can play at right-back as well.

“He’s only 19 and we can play him in both positions but we've Pat Ahern out suspended so we’ve used Luke at centre-half.”