Sterling, 19, was named alongside Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney in the attacking midfield band of England's 4-2-3-1 formation, with Daniel Sturridge the lone striker.

Second-choice goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu started in goal for Italy after 2006 World Cup-winner Gianluigi Buffon sustained an ankle injury in training on Friday.

With AC Milan full-back Mattia De Sciglio unavailable due to a thigh problem, Giorgio Chiellini of Juventus started at left-back.

The Group D match at the Amazonia Arena in the rainforest city of Manaus will be the first competitive encounter between the teams since Italy beat England on penalties in the quarter-finals of the 2012 European Championship.

In August last year, England edged Italy 2-1 in a friendly.

Teams

England

Joe Hart; Glen Johnson, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines; Steven Gerrard (capt), Jordan Henderson; Raheem Sterling, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck; Daniel Sturridge

Coach: Roy Hodgson (ENG)

Italy

Salvatore Sirigu; Matteo Darmian, Andrea Barzagli, Gabriel Paletta, Giorgio Chiellini; Daniele De Rossi; Antonio Candreva, Andrea Pirlo (capt), Marco Verratti, Claudio Marchisio; Mario Balotelli

Coach: Cesare Prandelli (ITA)

Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (NED)