WHENEVER a club dips into the loan market, it is always fraught with danger.

Colchester United can vouch for that. Over the years, there have been many success stories, and yet just as many torrid tales of loan players who have failed to live up to expectations.

Flying winger Michail Antonio, who has returned to Reading this week after a three-month stay with the U’s, was one of the big hits of recent times. His raw pace and considerable power entertained the crowds, and he contributed four goals to boot.

Now front-runner Casey Thomas, recruited on loan from Swansea last week, until January 2, is hoping to make a similar impact.

Successful loanees always stick in the memory – Jamie Cureton (Swindon), Rowan Vine (Portsmouth) and David Mooney (Reading) spring to mind – but those that flopped are often forgotten.

I have decided to recall some of those loan signings, of recent seasons, who have disappointed in a U’s shirt, whether through lack of talent, lack of form or just bad luck with injury.

Here’s my “top 10” of those U’s flops …. in my humble opinion … although there is a big pool from which to select!

TOP 10

1 Paul Tierney – much was expected of this young left-back, mainly because he had graduated from the Manchester United Academy and so was highly rated. Yet he never got to grips with League One, despite having appeared for the Old Trafford club in a Carling Cup game against West Brom from earlier in the season (2003-04). The last two of his four U’s outings were massive games, but he failed to really produce in either and never lasted the 90 minutes. Tierney looked out of sorts during the demoralising 3-2 home defeat to Essex rivals Southend, in the first leg of the LDV Vans Trophy southern area final, and he didn’t fare much better in the 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United in the FA Cup. Later in his career he signed for Livingston and then Altrincham

2 Titus Bramble – although this strapping centre-half has gone on to enjoy a fruitful career in the top flight, initially at Ipswich Town before moves to Newcastle, Wigan and Sunderland, Bramble’s loan stay at Layer Road at the start of the Millennium was all too brief. His debut was impressive, in a 1-1 draw at Blackpool on January 3, and just five days later he was involved in one of the best games in the U’s history, a thrilling 5-4 home win over Bristol Rovers. However, Bramble did not cover himself in glory, conceding a penalty and then hobbling off injured. That was the last we saw of him at Colchester.

3 Bela Balogh – hopes were high when this Hungarian international arrived at Layer Road for the Essex club’s fateful second season in the Championship. He had signed on a season-long loan from MTK Hungaria, but never really took to the English game. As a defender, when given time, he looked composed on the ball, but he never got to grips with the frenetic pace of the Championship. Balogh added to his international caps during his stay with the U’s – his ninth and last cap was in 2007 – but his 17 appearances in a U’s shirt were never very convincing. Still only 26, Balogh is currently playing club football back in his native Hungary for Kecskemeti.

4 Izzy McLeod – it’s not really his fault that this former £1m-rated striker should be in this “Hall of Shame.” Front-runner McLeod had switched from MK Dons to Charlton in a £1.1m move, but had failed to bag the necessary goals with the Addicks and so was loaned out to the U’s during the closing stages of their relegation season (2007-08). McLeod’s arrival was an exciting signing for the U’s, with manager Geraint Williams hoping that the striker’s pace would ruffle a few feathers. However, having made his debut as a substitute in a 1-0 home defeat by Wolves, McLeod then suffered a serious knee injury during a 4-1 defeat at Plymouth in his second and last appearance. The injury kept him out for eight months. The last we saw of him was on a stretcher leaving Home Park! However, he is now of course banging in the goals for Barnet in League Two.

5 Ron Green – player-manager Roy McDonough signed this veteran keeper from Kidderminster in November, 1992, in the U’s first season back in the Football League. However, he soon gained an unwanted reputation for venturing unwisely off his goal-line, and so it was no surprise that 10 goals were leaked in his first three appearances, including a bizarre 4-4 home draw against Rochdale. Ironically, he kept a clean-sheet in his fourth and last outing in a U’s shirt, before Carl Emberson took over the goalkeeping duties.

6 Franck Queudrue - much was expected of this veteran Frenchman, following his move from Birmingham City in March, 2010. But the experienced left-back, who is now aged 33 and on the books of Lens, did not have the best of times in League One. He made just three outings in a disappointing stay until the end of the season. His cause was not helped by injuries. His best days were certainly long behind him.

7 Michael Basham - This young defender's spell at Layer Road only lasted for a matter of a few days. Signed on loan from West Ham on November 18, 1993, the 20-year-old was injured in his first appearance at Doncaster Rovers, in a 2-1 defeat and so immediately returned to Upton Park.

8 Martin Williams - this Luton Town striker failed to impress during his short stint at Layer Road in March, 1995. He did go on to play 127 league games for Reading, but only managed three outings for Steve Wignall's side, and failed to score. He only stayed for 16 days,

9 Ritchie Jones - his Manchester United pedigree excited U's fans on his arrival in November, 2006. The 19-year-old stayed with the U's for three months at the start of the season, having previously only had first team experience at Royal Antwerp. But he only made six appearances for the U's, all of them as a substitute playing out wide. However, in Jones' defence, he did find it very difficult to break into a successful Colchester team, who went on to finish 10th in the Championship. He never played a league game for Manchester United, but is currently playing for ex-U's boss Phil Parkinson at Bradford City.

10 John Halls - Another of the younger players from the Premier League, this time Arsenal, who failed to sparkle or get to grips with the pace and physical demands of the lower leagues. Central midfielder Halls stayed for just one month, from January, 2002. He did play six games, as a raw 20-year-old, but flattered to deceive. He never played a league game for the Gunners, and is now at Wycombe.