The 20-year-old came off the bench with 17 minutes remaining to net a late, late leveller as England C held Italy to a 1-1 draw in their International Challenge Trophy clash at Fleetwood Town’s Highbury Stadium.
Fairclough said: “I held him back a bit because I thought Adam was the sort of player that could come on and have an impact and that’s exactly what he did.
“We were into the final knockings and he showed great composure to produce a finish like that, with 16-17 players in front of him in the box.”
Never has the mantra of fail to prepare, prepare to fail rung truer according to Fairclough too as Watkins was able to slot straight into the speed of the high quality game.
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He continued: “I told him exactly when he was coming on and he used those five minutes to get his heart rate and body warmed up for the game so he could come straight on and have an impact which is what he did.
“The players have said afterwards that it was such a high standard of football. The Conference is a very physical league, but this was a whole different ball game.
“Players like Adam will only learn from these experiences and it will definitely make them better players.”
Fairclough also thought that Watkins was able to have the effect that he had due to a reduced workload for Luton in recent weeks.
The youngster had started eight league games in a row until the home clash with Tamworth earlier this month as he has come off the bench in Town’s last two Conference matches.
The former Barnet boss said: “Adam has been used sparingly in recent weeks by Gary, which I was quite pleased about.
“Gary used him quite sparingly at the start of the season, but then he became quite a first team player because of how it was going at Luton.
“He (Brabin) might be the first to admit that he has played him a bit too much in recent weeks though, because young players can sometimes burn out if played too much.
“So I was quite pleased because Adam came to us as bright as a daisy and it worked out for us.”
Although Watkins will have caught the eye with his last-gasp winner, Fairclough stated he was not a shoe-in for the next match in Russia on June 4, and he also offered hope to both Robbie Willmott and John Paul Kissock, who missed out against Italy.
Fairclough said: “Adam did very well, but he’s not sure of a place for Russia. The last words that I said to the players before I left was that they all did well, but that it’s a clean sheet now for the next game.
“The scouts will be out and about and the players have to keep their level of performance high because they all love playing for their country.”
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