Sterling has found himself the subject of various back-page headlines after his gun tattoo, that he explained was a tribute to his late father, was spotted in England training.
The winger also attracted negative attention for arriving late to join England's training camp due to a mix-up with his flights, although Southgate explained he had already received an apology.
He has been picked to start at Wembley, however, along with Manchester United midfielder Lingard, while Eric Dier will take up a role in front of the back four.
Kieran Trippier and Ashley Young, meanwhile, are selected in the wing-back positions as they are given a chance to impress, with the Three Lions' first World Cup game against Tunisia just over two weeks away.
Two other Leicester players, Wilfred Ndidi and Ahmed Musa, also failed to make the starting XI but are likely to be used at some point over the 90 minutes.
England starting XI: Pickford, Trippier, Walker, Stones, Cahill, Young, Dier, Dele, Sterling, Lingard, Kane.
Nigeria starting XI: Uzoho, Idowu, Ekong, Balogun, Onazi, Mikel, Obi, Shehu, Moses, Iwobi, Ighalo.