Despite not starting any of Roy Hodgson's side's three warm-up fixtures, the teenager could play a pivotal role in Brazil, according to his Liverpool and international team-mateGlen Johnson believes Raheem Sterling can be England's surprise package at the World Cup.
The 19-year-old failed to start any of England's three warm-up fixtures after being red carded against Ecuador, though Roy Hodgson admitted that he would have made the starting XI against Honduras had he not been suspended.
And though his lack of minutes could mean he misses out against Italy on June 14, Johnson believes he has all the attributes to shock the world's best sides.
"Hopefully he can [surprise other teams]. That would be ideal if people don’t know what he is capable of and people underestimate him a bit," he told reporters.
"That would definitely work in our favour. Hopefully people will underestimate him and then he can prove them wrong.
"I think he has looked good all year. He is a young kid who is willing to learn about the game and he should just get better."
Former Chelsea defender Johnson is one of the more experienced players in Hodgson's youthful squad, and was part of the side that were knocked out of Euro 2012 on penalties by Italy the last time the two met.
But the 29-year-old believes the attacking players that have been added to the England side since then should provide more of a threat against the Azzurri in Manaus on Saturday.
"I think we had a good team when we played Italy last time, but now we have more players who can hurt them attacking-wise.
"We have a bit more pace in the squad as well so hopefully we will get further on.
"I don’t think Italy will have met an England team like this before. The team we had before was a good side but maybe it was slightly defensive.
"If we can defend well now and use some of the pace and ability we have going forward we can cause problems."