By Kevin Phillips

17th Jun, 2021 | 7:02pm

Phillips backs 21-yr-old for Sunderland promotion as Wyke closes in on Celtic move

Charlie Wyke’s prospective departure from Sunderland could open the door for Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka to step into the first team.

That is the view of 2000 European Golden Shoe winner Kevin Phillips, speaking exclusively to Football Insider about Lee Johnson’s striking options if Wyke, 28, leaves at the end of his contract this month.

This site revealed on 16 June that Celtic are set to offer Wyke a long-term contract and the latest from a Hoops source is that talks are progressing well between the two parties.

His exit could help 21-year-old centre-forward Benji Kimpioka gain promotion to the first team.

Kimpioka spent the final part of the 2020-21 campaign on loan with Torquay United after scoring four goals in six appearances for Sunderland in Premier League 2.

When asked by Football Insider if Johnson may put his faith in the young striker next season, Phillips said: “I would give him an opportunity.

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I think most will be given their opportunity to impress in pre-season. Nobody will go out on loan before the season starts because Lee Johnson will want to have a good look at the youngsters.

He will know very quick whether Kimpioka is up to the task.

I think the time is now for Sunderland to give the youth a chance. It has not worked with experienced players like Danny Graham and Will Grigg so why not give the youngsters a chance?

You know they will be chomping at the bit to impress. The fans will give the young players time.

Kimpioka is a definite option and I’m sure a decision wil be made on him after pre-season.”

In other news, Kevin Phillips wowed by Sunderland plot to sign top-flight midfielder.