Kevin Phillips suggested the money raised from the potential sale of Bali Mumba could allow Sunderland to sign two more players this summer.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, the striker, who won the European Golden Shoe while at the Stadium of Light in 2000, insisted the club would not want to sell the 18-year-old but needs must in difficult financial times.
Football Insider revealed earlier this week that the Black Cats had accepted a £500,000 bid from Norwich City for the England Under-19 international.
Mumba has made 17 appearances for the League One side’s Under-23 side who play in Premier League 2.
However, the teenager has made just one senior appearance this season, which came in the EFL Trophy and he is yet to feature under Phil Parkinson since he replaced Jack Ross in October.
When asked by Football Insider if the club’s hand was forced given the current financial climate, Phillips said: “If they can get some money for him then they will take it.
“With the circumstances at the moment any amount of money will help.
“You do not want to be selling your best young players because the financial situation may force clubs to rely on their younger players next season to help them get out of the league. He is one that could help.
“It is a concern that they are selling their young players but in the situation we are in, £500,000 could go towards another two players.
“If he has not been used for the past two years then the club will think it is the right thing for them at the moment.”
The academy graduate has one year left on his contract at the Stadium of Light.
Mumba made his first team debut in the Championship against Wolves at the age of just 16 in April 2018.
In other Sunderland news, it can be REVEALED that club have set their sights on 23-year-old striker.