AFC Wimbledon’s Kevin Sainte-Luce will start life at Kingsmeadow juggling a relegation dogfight and a court-enforced curfew.
Boss Neal Ardley signed his former protégé from Cardiff City to offer him a second chance after he was convicted of assault last month, and had his contract at the New Cardiff City Stadium terminated.
But until the curfew – which demands Saint-Luce is at an address in Cardiff between 8pm and 6am, Wednesday to Sunday – ends on March 26 or is
altered, the French winger’s contribution to the Dons’ League Two survival fight will be limited.
The order came after the 19-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of assault, and was found guilty of a second count at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court on January 9.
He was also ordered to pay the two female victims a total of £1,250 in compensation, as well as undertake 12 months of unpaid community service work, with an unpaid work requirement of 180 hours, after the incident in a Cardiff nightclub on November 3.
Sainte-Luce signed for the Dons on the final day of the January transfer window.
“Kevin had problems in Cardiff and he did a really bad thing over there, but I worked with Kevin and I know it was totally out of character,” Ardley said.
“I do not condone what he did, it was bad, but he is genuinely remorseful over what happened.
“I thought the curfew had been slightly changed, but it can be taken to wherever he is, it doesn’t have to be in Cardiff, but that has to be sorted out with the courts.”
At the time of going to press there had been no application to change the curfew orders lodged at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court.
While the curfew does not affect Tuesday night games, Sainte-Luce must be back in Cardiff by 8pm on Saturdays, and the three-hour journey from Kingsmeadow could prove tricky for three home games, including vital relegation clashes with York City and Aldershot.
He will also play only a part-role in four away games, and will definitely be unavailable for the trip to Dagenham & Redbridge on February 23, which might involve an impossible race against time back to the Welsh capital.
Moreover, the Daggers clash is the first Ardley faces without Toby Ajala, who will return to Bristol City on February 20, and winger Sainte-Luce would be an ideal replacement.
Ardley said: “I was trying to keep the whole situation low key. Anyone who has met Kevin says what a lovely lad he is.
“He is going to be involved in a relegation fight soon and there are a lot fans already looking to give him some stick.
“This is a second chance and it is a chance based on a character. If you had a younger brother or cousin and something bad happened to him, would you cast him aside?”