Speaking just before kick-off, Southgate admitted he had doubts about selecting Sterling after he arrived a day late for the start of England's training camp due to a flight mix-up as he returned from holiday.
On the storm of criticism that has come his way from certain quarters for his choice of body art, Sterling added: "People will see stuff in the wrong way, but I'm just looking to get over it and just concentrate on football".
But the game represented little as a true test for England who benefited from a string of first-half errors by Nigeria.
Southgate is expected to play a three-man defence, having used the system in recent matches.
"The most important job for me is to protect the players".
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A contrite Sterling insisted he had no complaints about Southgate's handling of the incidents. I completely understand where he's coming from.
A rapid counter-attack saw Sterling sent scampering into the box by Young, only for the former Liverpool winger's decision-making to let him down as he failed to pick out a team-mate.
Captain Kane, who scored his eighth goal in his last seven appearances for England, told ITV: "It was a good win against a tough side".
SUPER EAGLES coach Gernot Rohr said that Nigeria are not quite ready for the World Cup yet after Nigeria's narrow 2-1 defeat to England at Wembley (June 2). We didn't always find them or see them, but there was a lot of unselfish one and two touch play that really pleased me. Everybody has to maintain his level.
"My experience of these tournaments is these things will evolve as the matches progress".
"I wouldn't necessarily say that team [that started against Nigeria] is the one which starts against Tunisia".
Shortly after, another chance fell to the hosts when Jesse Lingard tried to beat Francis Uzoho at his near post but the latter made a timeous block to keep him out.
"We missed totally the first half but the preparation wasn't good".
"We can not play like we did in the first half".
"We couldn't train on Friday because of rain, the pitch wasn't good". Let us know what you think in the comments section.
"That five-, six-minute spell is what we must learn from because that could be enough to put you out", he warned.