MICKY MELLON has challenged Lawrence Shankland to show watching Scotland manager Steve Clarke that he can’t leave him out of his European Championship squad by putting Hibs to the sword at Hampden.

Mellon says that there is a massive incentive for Shankland to showcase himself in tomorrow’s Scottish Cup semi-final, with a rival for a spot in the 26-man squad lining up at the other end of the pitch in the form of Kevin Nisbet.

“You will absolutely know that Steve Clarke will be watching the game – it is what he does,” Mellon said.

“He is a hard working manager and he is national team manager so they know the opportunity will be there to get in front of him and show what you have got and that is the same for everyone.

“I have not heard him say the door has been shut yet. There are still a number of places left so why not? If that floats your boat and that is what motivates you and focuses you to get in front of him and play well, then yes, go for it. Go and do that.”

There is also a chance tomorrow for Mellon and his side to prove that Dundee United can firmly be considered a major player in Scottish football once more after spending so long in Championship purgatory.

Having comfortably survived in the Premiership in their first season back in the big-time, Mellon’s challenge to his players is to take the next step, and start competing for major honours once more as the club used to do on a regular basis.

"I came here for a number of reasons,” he said. “I looked at the challenge, I knew the history of Dundee United and I wanted to be involved in that. I wanted to be part of the people who get Dundee United back to where the fans believe they should be. I'm enjoying the challenge of that. “The benchmarks of that are getting Dundee United into the latter stages of cup competitions and we're working hard trying to achieve that.

“We've got to the semi-final which is brilliant. I wouldn't imagine there would be many clubs that have come out of the Championship and achieved that.

“But we don't believe the story is done yet and we'll hopefully go to Hampden and get a positive result.”

United will of course be without perhaps their star man, goalkeeper Benjamin Seigrist, who has been ruled out for the season with a broken wrist, while Luke Bolton has returned to England to attend to a family matter.

Those two however also didn't play as United dumped Aberdeen out of the tournament with ease at Pittodrie in the last round, and Mellon thinks that if his men can reach that sort of level again tomorrow, they will give themselves more than a fighting chance of making the final.

“That’s what they have to do,” he said. “That is the quality they have to show.

“The other quality they have to show is to be adaptive, which is what any good player is able to do. “Any good player can turn up at a game of football and the ball will be about to roll and he will say, ‘Ok what’s today’s ask? I am going to answer them, I am going to impact the game.’

“That is the kind of attitude I want my players to have in every game. We are still working hard at that and trying hard to make sure we have that mentality, and on Saturday it will be no different – make sure you answer what this game asks of you.

“Every game is different. Get out on the front foot, go answer the game what it needs to know and try and get a result’.”