“We’ve had three or four players captaining the team, and Raheem is developing lots of the qualities those guys have,” Southgate said.
“He has those qualities. It’s difficult to talk about a potential captain when the captain [Harry Kane] is in the hotel waiting to go out for dinner, but in terms of his personal qualities, he’s shown some outstanding personal qualities.”
Kane is England’s current captain, but Southgate revealed last week that Sterling has joined Kane in the team’s “leadership group”, which also consists of Jordan Henderson, Eric Dier, Fabian Delph and Ashley Young.
“I decided to promote him into the leadership group in between November and March, observing his maturity and influence,” Southgate said.
“I think when you speak to other young players, he’s one of the first they speak about making them feel really comfortable in the environment. That was a really important move for him.”
Sterling is in a rich vein of scoring form for club and country, having now scored five goals in his last three England appearances.
At club level, Sterling has 19 goals for Man City this season and has been mentioned as a possible candidate for PFA Player of the Year.
“For me, the biggest thing is he’s in such a confident mood, he’s finishing without thinking,” Southgate said.
“He’s in flow, and for any sportsman that’s a great place to be. You want to play without thinking. As soon as you think about what you’re going to do, you hesitate.”