KARL Henry has not been at the Macron all that long – but he has certainly got under people’s skin in the Wanderers dressing room.

Darren Pratley admits his fellow midfielder’s constant chatter on the pitch can be irritating but he would not have it any other way, as it seems to have inspired Phil Parkinson’s side to change their ways in the Championship.

Henry was snapped up on a free transfer in September when the Whites were seven points adrift of safety, bottom of the table and without a win on the board after nine games.

Six weeks later, they still have plenty of work to do, but the feeling that a survival scramble is possible is down in no small part to the former Wolves and QPR midfielder.

“Karl coming in has been a big thing for us, he’s played at the top level for many years,” said Pratley. “Sometimes football works not when someone is dribbling past three or four players or playing worldie passes but just by talking.

“The best talker at our club is Stephen Darby, but he’s not in the team at the moment. Karl has come in and been brilliant.

“Some people say he’s a moaning so-and-so, he demands high standards, but I think he’s been an excellent addition. Since we signed him, we’ve improved.”

Phil Parkinson credits Henry with having a positive influence on some of his younger players, like Adam Armstrong and Sammy Ameobi, and being able to execute his demands on the field.

Eyebrows were raised by many fans when the Wanderers boss brought in a player who turns 35 next week on the recommendation of West Brom boss Tony Pulis. But Pratley reckons the extra ear-ache is worth it when you weigh up Henry’s impact.

“A lot of the boys find him annoying,” he said. “You’d do well not to have an argument with him every day in training.

“But as a professional, you have to like it. He cares. He is a leader and he’s not moaning for moaning’s sake. He is demanding the best out of us and I think it’s great for the young lads that they have got someone driving them on. He turns 35 in a couple of days and people might have looked at him and thought he came here for his last pay cheque. But he’s determined to do well and make us a better side.”

Friday night’s draw at Preston was not a classic but Pratley says Wanderers’ ability to hold on to a point shows how much they have improved.

The midfielder held his hands up for having made a slow start to the game, during which Preston missed a string of good early chances. But preserving a six-game run without defeat was still a positive in Pratley’s opinion.

“We had to stay unbeaten,” he told The Bolton News. “Five or six weeks ago we’d have probably lost that game. They would have scored in the first half and then gone on to win the game two or three-nil.

“We have improved a lot over the last five games from the start we had, so to take a point in the local derby when it wasn’t our best display, I’ll take it.

“I think we started poor in the first 25 minutes – the little lad Pearson and Browne got the better of me and Karl in the middle and they looked the better team, to be honest. Second half we started better, we might have nicked it but it would have felt a bit smash and grab. A point was probably a fair result.”

Both full-backs, Antonee Robinson and Mark Little, emerged from the Deepdale derby with credit, says Pratley, and the club captain is pleased to see the improvement made by the young defender – known as “Jedi” for his acrobatic goal celebrations.

“Jedi has been patient because (Andrew) Taylor had been playing until he got injured. He is learning and he gives us another outlet on the left with his pace going forward. At the start his positioning wasn’t great but he’s definitely learning that and getting better with each game.”