Craig Gordon: Hearts can spring a surprise against European giants
The Edinburgh club will be seeded as a Priority One club for the draw but could still encounter an established Continental side which progresses from the third qualifying round.
Gordon, the Hearts captain, believes that thorough pre-season preparation could make Hearts a difficult opponent for even the more experienced foreign teams.
The Europa League play-off draw is due to be made in early August, with the first leg on August 18 and the second leg on August 25.
Should Hearts succeed they will secure a place in the tournament’s group stage. Defeat carries a parachute into the Europa Conference League, guaranteeing group-stage football for Gordon and his team-mates either way.
Asked about his club’s chances, the goalkeeper is counting on a level of unpredictability.
“It depends on the draw. We can give it our best shot,” he said after winning the Scottish Football Writers’ Player of the Year award. “I don't think anybody will expect anything of us but if we get ourselves in great shape over pre-season, you just never know.
“Even if it's a big team we might catch them too early and manage to win the game. We realise we are probably going to be up against a big name in the first game but you just never know.
"We will prepare as best we can. We still need to finish this season strongly and when we get back together I'm sure that will be the first aim, to look to that game and get as ready as we possibly can.”