It is an international debut for Tottenham Hotspur winger Townsend, who has been preferred to James Milner on the England right following an impressive start to the domestic season.
Sturridge will play just ahead of Wayne Rooney in attack. Both players, and the recalled Danny Welbeck, missed the 0-0 draw in Ukraine last month, with the man who led the line that night, Rickie Lambert, dropping out of the side.
Group H leaders England can take a giant step to securing their place at Brazil 2014 with victory over second-place Montenegro, who are without captain and star striker Mirko Vucinic.
Several other of their regular starters - goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic, centre-back Marko Basa and midfielder Miodrag Pekovic - are also sidelined, leaving Manchester City forward Stefan Jovetic as their most recognisable player and biggest attacking threat.
England: Hart; Walker, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Gerrard, Lampard; Townsend, Rooney, Welbeck; Sturridge
Montenegro: Poleksic; Kecojevic, Savic, Jovanovic, Volkov; Pavicevic, Zverotic, Drincic, Boskovic; Damjanovic, Jovetic