Tuilagi was rewarded for an impressive season at Leicester with a place in the initial training squad for the tournament.
And having caught the eye in training and then gone on to score on his debut against Wales in the opening pre-tournament warm-up game, Tuilagi has strengthened his claims for a place on the flight to New Zealand.
Tuilagi, though, faces competition from Mike Tindall, Shontayne Hape, Riki Flutey and Matt Banahan - with Delon Armitage and Jonny Wilkinson also able to cover in the centres.
However Carling, who was capped 72 times and guided England to the 1991 World Cup final, believes Samoa-born Tuilagi deserves his place.
"Both Mike Tindall and Shontayne Hape are strong players in their own individual rights, but I am not convinced they are the right partnership," said Carling.
"If you look at the great midfield partnerships - the likes of Little and Horan, Little and Bunce - there is a balance. I don't see that with Tindall and Hape as they aren't that different in their styles.
"Riki Flutey is a possibility but I was disappointed with his showing against Wales, although it was just a one-off game he can bounce back.
"Then there is Tuilagi. He has to go to New Zealand. Out of all of the centres, he is the one who offers something different. He is not just powerful but he has tremendous pace and is able to take advantage of the space around him.
"We saw that against Wales where he used his power. He does get a little bit too keen in defence but he is young and that is something that can be worked on."
Carling believes having the right centres in place would go some way to giving England a more complete squad.
"Our pack will be confident going out there and is traditionally strong but we now have some real quality in the backs," said Carling, who will be one Heineken's brand ambassadors for the tournament alongside Zinzan Brooke, Scott Quinnell, Rob Henderson, Matt Burke and Gary Teichmann.
"I think the back three is as exciting as I've seen with Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Mark Cueto. You've then got the likes of Delon Armitage and Ugo Monye who are pushing hard.
"It is a strong area for England at the moment and that is what you need. We have just got to get the midfield sorted."
Carling, who won three Grand Slams and a further Five Nations title as skipper, has also been impressed with the return to form of Jonny Wilkinson.
The England fly-half was the star of the 2003 side that lifted the Webb Ellis trophy, while he bounced back from a series of serious injuries four years later to help the side to a second successive final.
And Carling is pleased with the competition in the squad for the No.10 jersey, with Toby Flood having been the first-choice fly-half in recent seasons.
"I think Jonny Wilkinson was one of the big pluses from the Wales game," said Carling.
"I thought Toby Flood was a revelation at the start of the RBS Six Nations, where he played flat and controlled the games.
"He tailed off a little but he still finished the tournament as an improved player and the fact Wilkinson is back firing again can only be good. To have two world-class No.10s is not something that every sides can lay claim to."
Heineken, the world's leading premium beer brand, announced former England captain Will Carling as a brand ambassador to promote its sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup 2011 and new campaign, entitled 'This is the Game', which focuses on the unwritten code of values implicit in rugby union on and off the pitch.
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