The Liverpool youngster is trusted to make an impact by manager Roy Hodgson despite having limited game time in pre-tournament friendlies, with Adam Lallana benched.England manager Roy Hodgson has picked Raheem Sterling to start against Italy in the Three Lions' first game of the World Cup.
The youngster played very little of his side's pre-tournament friendlies, coming on against Ecuador only to be sent off and earn a suspension for the final warm-up against Honduras, but has sufficiently impressed the boss to face the Azzurri.
Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana drops out of the side as Danny Welbeck keeps his place in a young, quick XI which will face the team that knocked it out of Euro 2012.
With the debate settled over which combination of attacking midfielders to pick in the scorching heat of Manaus, the rest of the team is as expected, with Jordan Henderson partnering captain Steven Gerrard in the center of the pitch.
Wayne Rooney keeps his place behind lead striker Sturridge, while Glen Johnson, Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill and Leighton Baines continue as first-choice defense in front of Joe Hart.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon misses out for Italy so Salvatore Sirigu of Paris Saint-Germain takes his place, while Giorgio Chiellini is at left back in the absence of Mattia De Sciglio.
England starting XI: Hart; Johnson, Jagielka, Cahill, Baines; Henderson, Gerrard; Sterling, Rooney, Welbeck; Sturridge
Italy starting XI: Sirigu; Darmian, Paletta, Barzagli, Chiellini; De Rossi; Marchisio, Pirlo, Verratti, Candreva; Balotelli